SACW - 26 April 2012 | Sri Lanka: Citizens ’ Statement Against Dambulla Mosque attack / P akistan: Anti Terrorism and Trade Unions / India: Spectre of Fascism; Intrigue around Army; Laal Ban d rocks Delhi; PMANE Appeal to Maoists
- South Asia Citizens Wire - 26 April 2012 - No. 2744
1. Sri Lanka: Dambulla Mosque attack - Concerned Citizens’ Statement Against Religious Intolerance
2. Anti-Terror’ Laws Haunt Pakistan’s Trade Unionists (Irfan Ahmed)
3. India: The Spectre of Fascism (Rohini Hensman)
4. India: Cloaked daggers [The intrigue and disinformation campaign endangers integrity of the armed forces (Praful Bidwai)
5. India: Siachen summit (Jug Suraiya)
6. India: BJP in Karnataka - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Shivasundar)
7. India - Gujarat: A Conversation With Zuber Jafri (Sruthi Gottipati)
8. India: Guns and India's Samajwadi Party
9. India: The Pakistani revolutionary rock band, Laal, rocks Delhi
10. India: PMANE Appeal to Maoists for Immediate Release of Mr. Alex Paul Menon
11. French Presidential Elections - Round 1: Economic Crisis and The Democratisation of Xenophobia
(i) A Public Seminar In Solidarity With The Hazara Community In Balochistan (Islamabad, 28 April 2012)
1. SRI LANKA: DAMBULLA MOSQUE ATTACK - CONCERNED CITIZENS’ STATEMENT AGAINST RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
sacw.net - 25 April 2012
Concerned Citizens’ Statement Against Religious Intolerance
It is with great concern that we the undersigned protest against the growing trend of increasing religious intolerance in Sri Lanka with regard to minority religions. We specifically condemn the recent violent attack on the Mosque in Dambulla by a group of anti social actors. The Hindu community has also been asked to move their temple from the vicinity. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah Mosque had been in existence for over 60 years  and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the Mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction. The group stated that both the Mosque and Hindu shrine were built on sacred Buddhist ground. It is further regrettable that law enforcement authorities could not take appropriate action to stop the forceful entry into the mosque and the intimidation of the community.
On the 23rd after a discussion with the Buddhist monks deputy minister Hizbullah made a public announcement to the media that the monks have agreed to give three months to identify alternative land and relocate the Mosque. However the very affected members of the community have not been part of this discussion and are still unable to express their opinion freely. While we are in support of reaching a solution through negotiations with the Muslim community, we would like to stress that any decision taken on this issue should not be unjust towards the minority communities in the context of post-war Sri Lanka.
The mosque has been in existence for over 60 years and the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim persons in the region had been living together in a spirit of amity for decades, if not centuries. Yet, today we see that that religious intolerance is on the rise and the state has done little to check this. The incident in Dambulla is not an isolated one. Last year a Muslim shrine (Dargha) was destroyed in Anuradhapura.  In Ashraf Nagar the military has taken over land that belongs to 69 Muslim families, including land that was allotted for a Muslim burial ground. In Illangaithurai Muhathuwaram (now renamed Lanka Patuna) a Shivan shrine was removed and a Buddhist statue was built in its place. A group of Buddhist monks and people attacked the four Square Gospel Church in Kaluthara North last year. The Police have prevented the church from functioning claiming that it would lead to a breach peace. In Ambalangoda the Assembly of God church was attacked in February this year. A pastor in Kalutara was attacked and a house belonging to a Christian was vandalized by Buddhist monks alleging that the church was engaged in conversions. The police failed to frame charges against Buddhist monks. Recently the government has also tried to pass the Town and Country Planning bill which allows for religious land to also been acquired in municipal and urban areas for economic, social, historical, environmental or religious purposes.  Even though the bill has been challenged in court and withdrawn there is a move to bring the bill back as law through other avenues. Such acts increase the sense of insecurity that minorities in general feel in this as regards the practice of worship and co existence.
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community in which religious acceptance and protection of religious and cultural rights and the freedom to practice their religion anywhere in the country is a basic tenet of the Constitution and a protection assured to all citizens.
We appeal to the President, state institutions and officials, and those in the executive to take appropriate action on the incident in Dambulla that serves to build confidence among minority communities in the state structure and mechanisms. We strongly believe that the people of this country, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Christian and Burgher wish to live in harmony with each other. We also strongly believe that it is a marginal amount of people who take to violence in riding rough shod over the rights of others. We strongly urge the state to take measures to curb the growing trend of intolerance and to do its utmost to make minorities feel in every way people of this country. In the post war context this is of the utmost importance for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. We also appeal to religious and community leaders to initiate dialogue at all possible levels so that minority communities feel secure. We pledge our support for a pluralist Sri Lankan society.
1. Affected Women's Forum (Akkaraippattu)
2. Association of War-Affected Women
3. Centre for Human Resource Development (Viluthu)
4. Centre for Human Rights and Development
5. Centre for Mass Communication and Media (Mannar)
6. Centre for Policy Alternatives
7. EQUAL GROUND
8. Families of the Disappeared
9. Human Rights office Kandy
10. IMADR- Asia
12. Jaffna Civil Society for Equality
13. Lawyers for Democracy
14. Mannar Women’s Development Federation
15. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
16. Mullaitheevu Women Development and Rehabilitation Trust
17. Muslim Women’s Trust – Puttalum
18. Muslim Women's Research and Action Forum
19. National Peace Council
20. Red Flag Movement
21. Resources for Peace and Reconciliation (Mannar)
22. Right to Life Human Rights Center
23. Rights Now Collective for Democracy
24. Sakhi Collaboration
25. Stand Up Movement
26. Voluntary Service Development Organization
27. Women’s Action Network
28. Women and Media Collective
29. Women’s Support Group
1. A.L.M Bashir- NESAM, Nindavaur 2. A.Perinpanayagam 3. A.Rajasingam 4. A.C. Mohamed Mahir ( Kattankudy) 5. A.L. Mohamed Irfan (Kattankudy) 6. A.S.Mohamed Rayees 7. Ashila Dandeniya 8. A.W.A. Jihad (Muthur People’s Forum) 9. Aliyar Hazarat (Sammanthurai) 10. Ameena Hussein 11. Anberiya Hanifa 12. Ann Jabbar 13. B. Skanthakumar 14. B.Gowthaman 15. B.F. A. Basnayake 16. Beryl Perera 17. Bhavani Fonseka (Attorney-at-Law) 18. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe 19. Brito Fernando 20. C.De Silva 21. Cayathri Divakalala 22. Chandragupta Thenuwera 23. Chathurika Senanayake 24. Chulani Kodikara 25. Damaris Wickremesekera 26. Darshan Ambalavanar 27. Darshana Liyanage 28. Dayapala Thiranagama 29. Dileepa Witharana 30. Dishani Jayaweera (Attorney-at-Law) 31. Divakalala Sundaram 32. Dr. Camena Guneratne 33. Dr. D. H. S. Maithripala 34. Dr. Danesh Karunanayake 35. Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja 36. Dr. Farzana Haniffa 37. Dr. Harini Amarasuriya 38. Dr. Kumar David 39. Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi 40. Dr. M. Vethannathan (University of Jaffna) 41. Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Point Pedro Institute of Development) 42. Dr. Nishan de Mel 43. Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu 44. Dr. Philip Setunga 45. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne 46. Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe 47. Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran 48. Dr. Shamala Kumar 49. Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan 50. Dr. T. Jayasingam 51. Dushiyanthi Kanapathipillai 52. Ethayarani 53. Faizun Zackariya 54. Francis Devarani (Ampara) 55. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos 56. Fr. Nandana Manatunga ( Human Rights Office Kandy) 57. Fr. S. Maria Anthony, S. J. 58. Fr. T. S. Josuwa (Kavithalaya Kala Mandram) 59. Fr. Terence Fernando 60. Fr. V. Yogeswaran 61. F. Solomantine 62. Gamini Viyangoda 63. Godfrey Yogarajah (General Secretary, National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka) 64. Gowrie Ponniah 65. Harean Hettiarachchi (Programme Manager) 66. Harshana Rambukwella (Senior Lecturer- Open University) 67. Hashintha Jayasinghe 68. Hilmy Ahamed 69. Himali Nawalage (Sales Manager) 70. I.Malwatta 71. J. C. Weliamuna (Attorney at Law) 72. Jagath Weerasinghe (Artist) 73. Jake Oorloff 74. Jeevaratnam Kennedy 75. Jehan Mendis (Teacher) 76. Jehan Perera 77. Jensila Majeed 78. Jeyasankar Sivagnanam 79. Jezima Ismail 80. Jovita Arulanantham 81. Juweriya Mohideen 82. K.Arulanandarajah (Kalmunai) 83. K.Arumugam Asoka (Mahashakthi Foundation, Akkarappattu) 84. K.E.Tharagowri (Kalmunai, Ampara) 85. K. L. Shafi Hatheem ( Kalmunai) 86. K.Nihal Ahamed (Humanitarian Elevation Organisation, Addalaichenai) 87. K.Niroshan (People’s Progressive Development Society, Akkaraippattu 88. K.Praba (Thambiluvil) 89. K. R. M. Wickremesinhe (Attorney at Law) 90. K.S Ratnaval (Attorney at Law) 91. K.Sukirtha (Ampara) 92. Kasun Pathiraja 93. Krishna Velupillai 94. Krishni R. Sourjah 95. Kumudini Samuel 96. Kusal Perera 97. L. Perinpanayagam 98. Lakshan Dias 99. L. Yaseen Bawa ( Baker, Oluvil) 100. Lal Wijenayaka (Lawyers for Democracy) 101. M.A.C. Humaid ( Health Education, Social and Sports Organisation, Akkaraippattu) 102. M.A.M. Rifaz (Addalaichchenai) 103. M. Casim Kulanthahi Mararaikar ( Kalmunai) 104. M.I. Haidar (Akkaraipattu) 105. M.I. Rezard (Muthur Youth Social Development Organisation) 106. M. M. Nazeer ( Oluvil) 107. M.M. Saburudeen (Attorney at Law- Mannar) 108. M.R.M Naufil (Mannar Grand Mosque) 109. M. Thiruvarangan 110. Mahaluxumi Kurushanthan (Mannar) 111. Mahesh De Mel (Director, Waves of Hope) 112. Mahinda Hattaka 113. Mahisha Warusavitharana 114. Malcolm Peter (Alliance Development Trust) 115. Manjula Gajanayake 116. Mano Ganesan, (Civil Monitoring Commission) 117. Manzoor A Cader. (Rtd Registrar Sammanthurai) 118. Marisa de Silva 119. Mawlavi Bazeer (Sammanturai) 120. Melani Manel Perera (Christian Women Journalist) 121. Melanie Perera (Alliance Development Trust) 122. Melisha Yapa (Marketer/Banker) 123. Menaha Kandasamy 124. Minna Thaheer 125. Mirak Raheem 126. Mohammed Mahuruf 127. Mohideen Bawa Parikari Ibralebbai. (Oluvil) 128. Monroe Jayasuriya (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka) 129. Mujeeb Rahman 130. N. L. Pakeer Ali (Oluvil) 131. N.Shanthi (Akkaraipattu) 132. Nadya Perera 133. Nandala Maduranga Kalugampitiya 134. Navin Weeraratne 135. Nawaz Mohammed 136. Nicola Perera 137. Nilanjana Premaratne 138. Nimalka Fernando 139. Niyanthini Kadirgamar 140. Pala Pothupitiya (Artist) 141. P. Thanbirajah 142. P.N. Singham 143. Padmini, Women’s Centre 144. Peter Rezel 145. Priya Thangarajah (Law Student) 146. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne 147. Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe 148. Prof. Priyan Dias 148. Prof. S.H. Hasbulla 150. R.M.B. Senanayake 151. Radhika Hettiarachchi 152. Raghu Balachandran (Methodist Church of Sri Lanka) 153. Rajany Chandrasegaram 154. Rajasingam 155. Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections) 156. Rajiva Godagedara (Accountant) 157. Ralston Weinman 158. Ramyadarshanie Vithanage 159. Rev. Daisy Aseervatham 160. Rev. Oswald Firth 161. Rifana Buhary 162. Rohan Salgadoe 163. Romola Rassool 164. Rukaiya Mohideen 165. Ruki Fernando 166. Rukshani Attygalle Abeyeratne (Attorney at Law) 167. Ruwani Botheju (Alliance Development Trust) 168. S. Mohamed Rayees 169. S.C.C.Elankovan 170. S.N.S.Rizli (Addalaichchenai) 171. S. S . Ramakrishnan (Engineer- Mannar) 172. S. Sivathasan 173. S.Yoga (Ampara) 174. S.Ziyath, (Addalaichchena) 175. Sam Perera 176. Sanathanan Thamotharampillai (Artist) 177. Sandamali Herath (Marketer) 178. Sanjaya Senenayake 179. Sanjayan Rajasingham 180. Santhasilan Kadirgamar 181. Shafinaz Hassendeen 182. Shanaka Cooray ( Lawyer) 183. Sheik Thajudeen 184. Shifan Ahmed 185. Silma Ahamed 186. Shreen Saroor 187. Sr. Kathleen A.C. 188. Sr. Rasika Pieris 189. Sriya, Women’s Centre 190. Sultan Mohamed Faizal (Mannar Mosque Federation) 191. Surangi Ariyawansha (Center for Human Rights) 192. Suren Raghavan 193. T. Sivapalan 194. T.Pakiyawathi, Aalaiyadivembu (Ampara) 195. Tuan. Dilshan 196. U.K. Abdul Raheem (Naleemi, Oluvil) 197. U. P. S. A. Gafoor. (Rtd, RM Coconut Cultivation Board.- Oluvil) 198. Udan Fernando 199. V.K. Perera 200. V.K.Ranjani (Thandiyadi, Akkaraippattu) 201. Vamadeva Kurukkal (Uduvil) 202. Vasuki Jeyasankar 203. Visaka Dharmadasa 204. Wijith Rohan Fernando (Senior Lecturer, University of Kelaniya) 205. Y. D. Ravindran (Attorney at Law)
2. ‘ANTI-TERROR’ LAWS HAUNT PAKISTAN’S UNIONISTS
by Irfan Ahmed
From: Labour Notes South Asia - Post No. 1120
LAHORE, Apr 23, 2012 (Inter Press Service) - As International Labour Day approaches, rights groups in Pakistan are redoubling their efforts to win freedom for six incarcerated union leaders in Faisalabad, the country’s textile hub, who are currently serving a combined jail term of 590 years for supposedly violating the country’s ‘anti-terror’ laws.
The representatives of power loom workers – namely Akbar Ali Kamboh, Babar Shafiq Randhawa, Fazal Elahi, Rana Riaz, Muhammad Aslam Malik and Asghar Ansari – were charged with attacking a factory, injuring its owners and burning it down on Jul. 20, 2010, charges that all six individuals have denied.
Still, police were forced to add clauses from anti-terror laws to the report and the court ruled based on evidence and witnesses made available by the complainants, and now the labour activists are languishing behind bars.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) accepted an appeal against their conviction but so far no hearing date has been announced.
To keep the issue in the public eye, the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP) organised a lecture at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) on Apr. 16 to present the details of the case to a larger audience.
Meanwhile, the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM), the party to which the jailed leaders belong, is gearing up for a massive rally in Faisalabad on May 1 to demand that the case be repealed.
In actual fact, the six unionists were not terrorists but leaders of the LQM-sponsored strike involving roughly 100,000 power loom workers who were demanding a 17 percent wage hike, says Farooq Tariq, spokesman for the LPP.
He claims only a godown of the said factory was purposely burnt (some allege by the factory owners themselves) to teach the striking workers a lesson.
Still, it was the workers who were arrested, supposedly for indiscriminate firing to create fear, destroying public property and kidnapping people for ransom, all acts punishable under anti-terrorism laws in Pakistan.
"The message was clear: if this can happen with LQM leaders, anyone daring to assume this role in future must be ready for similar treatment," Tariq said.
He laments the fact that dictators, the ruling elite, feudal lords and a host of other actors are manipulating the country’s anti-terror laws with impunity to silence voices of dissent, target groups demanding their rights and punish rivals in politics.
Thousands of lawyers were arrested for terrorism charges during former president Pervez Musharraf’s regime for participating in the movement for restoration of the judiciary, Tariq said, adding, "I myself was booked under terrorism charges four times just for organising protests. Today, I stand cleared in all of them."
Families of the jailed leaders are in distress and LPP is raising 5,000 rupees (about 55 dollars) per month for each family’s sustenance.
No labour rights
The power looms sector in Faisalabad city, also known as the Manchester of Pakistan, is the backbone of the country’s economy, which is overwhelmingly dependent on the textiles sector.
Of the estimated 300,000 power looms, 200,000 are based here and set up mostly in the form of small units in houses.
Workers operating these units are paid per ‘pick’, a unit of measurement for the cloth produced, rather than a fixed wage, explained Anis-ul-Haq, spokesman for the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).
He said the situation worsens when there is no electricity to power the looms for 14-16 hours each day, meaning zero income for the workers.
This sector cannot afford to make alternative arrangements, like captive power plants and generators, for the simple reason that a typical power loom owner has as many as four to eight power looms at his disposal.
The prolonged electricity load-shedding and inflation has a lot to do with protests organised by workers, claims Rana Tahir, Faisalabad president of LQM. He condemned the labour leaders’ harsh sentence, saying power loom owners and political leaders prepared this ploy to weaken LQM, which had supported an LPP candidate in by-elections for a provincial assembly seat in April 2010.
Tahir challenged the contents of the First Information Report (FIR) registered against the six leaders and clarified that, in fact, guards at the factory shot at protesters first.
The demonstrators’ subsequent reaction caused a bullet to hit a nearby motorbike, sparking "a fire that spread and burnt the cloth lying in the godown."
Tahir also told IPS that it took police three days to add anti-terror clauses to the complaint, while the factory allegedly burnt by the accused took almost the same time to start fully functioning again. "Doesn’t this show things are doubtful?" he asked.
Akram Ghauri, chairman of the All Pakistan Cotton Power Looms Association, is not convinced by this version of events and has no sympathy for the jailed labour leaders.
"What they did to the factory and its owners is worth condemnation," he said, calling the leaders blackmailers who effectively held power loom owners and workers hostage by refusing to agree to any proposals.
Ghauri says LQM even threatened workers willing to work on weekends for wages 50 percent higher than those offered during weekdays.
"Now we are in peace, and hold talks with the genuine labour body – the Workers Union of Faisalabad – whenever required."
Despite his reaction, the registration of a case against the unionists under anti-terrorism law is a phenomenon backed by little public support.
Zulfiqar Shah, joint director of the Pakistan Institute for Labour Education and Research (PILER) believes commercial and industrial disputes should be decided in appropriate fora.
He believes there were certain circumstances that led to the clash between Faisalabad workers and the factory owners and the strike was not a premeditated move.
Now, the same anti-terror laws are being invoked in the case of protesting power loom workers in the port city of Karachi. Shah told IPS the only difference is that these workers have been booked under extortion charges.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Director I A Rehman has also condemned the misuse of anti-terror laws against labourers and the administration of such a severe punishment.
Even hardened criminals involved in heinous crimes have never been awarded such severe punishments, he said, and urges the state to give people their constitutional right under Article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which promises, "Every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality." (END)
3. INDIA: THE SPECTRE OF FASCISM
by Rohini Hensman
(Economic & Political Weekly, March 3, 2012)
Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India by Subhash Gatade (New Delhi: Pharos Media and Publishing), 2011; pp. 400, Rs 360.
The Saffron Condition: Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India by Subhash Gatade (Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective), 2011; pp. 475, Rs 500
If the message of both these books had to be summed up in one sentence, it would be this: The spectre of fascism is haunting India. Godse’s Children (hereafter GC) concentrates on the phenomenon of Hindutva terrorism, while The Saffron Condition (hereafter TSC) is divided into three sections: Saffronization and the Neoliberal State, Logic of Caste in New India, and State and Human Rights. There is thus an area of overlap between the two, with Hindutva terror also appearing in TSC, but treated in far greater detail in GC.
‘What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?’ asks Gatade, and replies, ‘Everybody would agree that the killing of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by a Hindu fanatic called Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India’ (GC 41). If ‘terrorism’ is defined as violence or threats of violence against civilians in pursuit of a political goal, then the assassination of Gandhi could indeed be seen as a terrorist act. The point being made here is that terrorism is not something new for the Hindutva agenda of creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in India: it was always part of it. The author outlines the conspiracy between members of the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and V.D.Savarkar to eliminate Gandhi. An interesting fact that emerges is that the successful assassination was only the last of at least five attempts starting in 1934. This lays to rest the idea that it was Gandhi’s support for Partition that motivated the killing. Gandhi was a devout Hindu and fairly conservative socially; what made Hindu nationalists hate him so much that they made repeated attempts to kill him and finally succeeded? ‘In fact, the idea of people’s amity cutting across boundaries of race, religion, sex, etc., which Gandhi upheld all his life was..anathema to the exclusivist, Hindu supremacist world view of the members of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. And, while “nation” was a racial/religious construct in the imagination of the Hindutva forces, for Gandhi and the rest of the nationalists it was a territorial construct or a bounded territory comprising of different communities’ (GC 44).
The assassination of Gandhi could not prevent India from adopting a predominantly secular, democratic constitution. Another way of working for a Hindu nation was to launch periodical massacres of Muslims and, more rarely, other minorities, including the Nellie massacre of 1983 in which an estimated 3,300 Muslim men, women and children were killed. These have in popular parlance been called ‘riots’, but this is a misnomer since it suggests a spontaneous outbreak of violence, whereas all investigations show these events to be carefully planned and executed; ‘pogroms’ would be a more accurate description. As Gatade points out, one of the most disturbing aspects of these pogroms is that the ringleaders and all but a very few of the lower-level perpetrators have never been punished. Furthermore, ‘the same citizenry which is categorically opposed to terrorism would exhibit a strange sense of ambivalence towards such indiscriminate violence and arson’ (GC 62). Where the victims of terror are minorities or Dalits, impunity has been the rule.
This is the background against which Hindutva terror in the narrower sense emerges. The incidents mentioned in GC (including those where the terrorists killed themselves by accident, training was imparted to would-be terrorists, and blasts were designed to frame Muslims) are numerous. Including instances quoted from S.M. Mushrif’s book Who Killed Karkare? the list would go something like this: training camp in the use of gelatin sticks (Pune, Maharashtra, 2000); training camp in handling weapons and making bombs (Bhonsala Military School, Nasik, Maharashtra, 2001); a series of bomb attacks on mosques and madrasas (Saharanpur, U.P., 2002); firearms training camp (Bhopal, M.P., 2002); bombs planted at a Muslim gathering (Bhopal, 2002); manufacture and use of bombs in the Gujarat carnage (2002); weapons training camp for women (Kanpur, U.P., 2003); bombing of mosque (Parbhani, Maharashtra, 2003); bombing of madrasa and mosque (Purna, Maharashtra, 2004); bombing of mosque (Jalna, Maharashtra, 2004); accidental blast while handling explosives (Nanded, Maharashtra, 2006); deadly bombing of a Muslim festival (Malegaon, Maharashtra, 2006); deadly bombing of the India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express (Haryana, 2007); Mecca Masjid blast (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, 2007); Ajmer Sharif blast (Ajmer, Rajasthan, 2007); detonators delivered to Muslim merchants (Wardha, Maharashtra, 2007); another accidental blast (Nanded 2007); bomb planted outside mosque (Pen Highway, Maharashtra, 2007); explosion at New Bus Stand (Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, 2008); bomb attack on RSS office (Tenkasi, 2008); explosion at auditorium (Thane, Maharashtra, 2008); bomb discovered and defused at auditorium (Vashi, Maharashtra, 2008); bomb at cinema (Panvel, Maharashtra, 2008); accidental explosion (Kanpur, 2008); live bomb recovered from Belgaum-Hubli road (Karnataka, 2008); bomb blast at court (Hubli, Karnataka, 2008); bombing of marketplace (Malegoan 2008); bomb blast in marketplace (Modasa, Gujarat, 2008); low-intensity blast (Kanpur, 2008); bombing of church (Lalitpur, Nepal, 2009); explosion at Margao (Goa, 2009); live bomb defused (Sancole, Goa, 2009); bomb blast at primary health centre (Kanpur, 2010).
For anyone who has not been following the news about Hindutva terrorist attacks, the sheer number and wide geographical distribution of these attacks is astonishing, and indicates, as the author suggests, a turn from communal pogroms to terror attacks as the favoured strategy for ‘the reactionary political project of building fascism’ (GC 320-21). It is apparent that at least in the 21st century, Hindutva terror has been far more active in India than Islamist terror. Why, then, has this fact not been appreciated more widely? The answer to this question is extremely disturbing, and opens up the possibility that other terrorist attacks too that have been attributed to Muslims have actually been perpetrated by Hindutva terrorists.
In the overwhelming majority of these cases, Muslims were the first to be blamed for the terror attacks. Here is one instance of the Kafkaesque manner in which innocent Muslims have been framed by the police: ‘The prosecution had claimed that the accused were arrested following a gunfight near Gurgaon-Delhi road on 1 July 2005. Delhi police had informed the court that the four accused in the car had tried to flee when they were asked to stop. It was also claimed that the accused opened fire on the police team. After the encounter, which lasted for a few minutes, the team was arrested by the police and an army combat uniform, fake currency of Rs 50,000 and a sketch of Palam Air Force Station were “recovered” from their possession. The judge discovered to his utter surprise that there was no such encounter on the intervening night of 1-2 July 2005, and an absolutely fake encounter story had been manufactured sitting in the office of the Special Staff led by Sub-inspector Ravindra Tyagi’ (GC 276). Similar stories are repeated in case after case: police personnel, often acting in collusion with intelligence agencies, arrest, incarcerate and torture innocent Muslims. (Appendix VI, GC 359, is an account of what was done to one of these victims.) Years later, when their cases finally come to trial, they are acquitted, but not before their lives have been ruined and their families devastated. Meanwhile, the real culprits are left free to kill again.
The honorouble exception to this rule was Hemant Karkare, chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad from January 2008. Meticulously following the clues in a spate of terrorist attacks, including especially the 2008 terror attack in Malegoan, Karkare began to unearth evidence against and arrest members of a Hindutva terrorist network comprising sadhvis and swamis, former and current military personnel, and other right-wing activists. One would think that he would be honoured for helping to make Maharashtra safe by putting terrorists behind bars, and there were indeed some who treated his work with the greatest respect and admiration. But leaders of the BJP, RSS, VHP and Shiv Sena called him a traitor, demanded that he be dismissed as ATS chief, and issued him with death threats (GC 141-44, 148-49).
Karkare was killed during the 26 November 2008 terror attacks in Bombay, and evidence uncovered by his widow Kavita, Vinita Kamte (the widow of Ashok Kamte, another police officer killed along with him) and S.M.Mushrif revealed that the official account of his death was completely unreliable, fuelling speculation that he had been assassinated by Hindutva activists. Gatade quotes from an article in Hardnews which emphasises that the bullets which killed Karkare were never identified, and their trajectory – from the top of the shoulder downwards rather than from the front, back or side – suggests that they were fired by one of the police personnel inside the vehicle with him rather than by any terrorist outside (GC 152-53). He concludes that it is crucial there should be a separate commission of enquiry into the death of Karkare and the other police officers killed with him, a demand that has been echoed by others.
Thus there is abundant evidence that the police and intelligence agencies are heavily infiltrated by accomplices in Hindutva terror. But the rot goes higher. The author points out that many bomb blasts (e.g. the Samjhauta Express blasts) are timed to sabotage India-Pakistan talks, the timing of which would not be known to lower-level functionaries; these planners and masterminds would be much higher in the state apparatus. He also observes that in BJP-ruled states, the trail of Hindutva terror inevitably goes cold even when policemen pick it up, demonstrating political involvement of the Hindutva forces at the highest levels. Among ‘disguised terrorists’ the author includes elements in the media who ‘take the handouts of intelligence agencies as gospel truth’ instead of pointing out the ‘inconsistencies and loopholes galore in them’. ‘Honourable exceptions apart, the dominant media is hugely biased in favour of Hindutva’ (GC 336-37). Bar associations too have engaged in the unethical practice of refusing to represent Muslims accused of terrorism, even when these cases have been patently false. Gatade mentions two courageous lawyers who challenged this ban and faced physical violence as a consequence (GC 169-70), but strangely leaves out Shahid Azmi, who was shot dead in Bombay in 2010 after he had proved to the satisfaction of the court that his client, Fahim Ansari, had been framed by the police in the November 26 terror attacks.
Supposedly secular political parties have not taken up the challenge either. The only senior Congress Party leaders who have spoken out openly against Hindutva terror – Digvijay Singh and P.Chidambaram – were not supported by others in the party, supposedly in order not to antagonise ordinary Hindus (GC 325-26, 329-30). But it is hard to believe that the party is unaware of the distinction between the religion, Hinduism, and the political ideology of Hindutva. The result of Congress softness on Hindutva terror is that in Congress-ruled states too, innocent Muslims have been incacerated and tortured for terrorist acts they did not commit, while the perpetrators have been free to kill again. ‘The most disturbing aspect of this phenomenon,’ writes the author, ‘is that even the Left, especially its mainstream version, failed to rise to the occasion’ (GC 24).
There is a striking resemblance between this situation and pre-Nazi Germany as described by Arthur Rosenburg in his essay ‘Fascism as a Mass Movement’ (translated by Jairus Banaji in Historical Materialism 20(1), 2012). Here it is pointed out that the fascist ideology which was later exploited by Hitler and the Nazis was widely prevalent decades earlier. In the case of India, the corresponding ideology is communalism. Unless Gatade’s urgent call for ‘an uncompromising struggle against communalism’ (GC 342) is heeded, India could be heading in the same direction.
The resemblance with Nazism is even more striking in Gujarat under Narendra Modi, as the author points out in chapters entitled ‘Auschwitz of Our Times’ (TSC 42) and ‘Modi’s Gujarat’ (TSC 52). The horrific gang rapes and mass murders of Muslims in 2002, accompanied by arson attacks on everything owned by them or associated with them including places of worship, would qualify the statewide pogrom as a crime against humanity if not genocide as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The continuing ghettoisation and persecution of Muslims, the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators (which is being challenged in court by courageous survivors and their supporters), and ‘the absence of remorse among people of the state’ (TSC 59) are all indicators of fascism as a mass movement. The indocrination of children by means of falsified history text-books (including the glorification of Hitler) (TSC 109-111) constitutes an attempt to pass on this ideology to a new generation. The inevitable destruction of the rule of law is exemplified by the failure of the authorities to intervene when a young dalit woman student was gang-raped repeatedly by six of her teachers at a government teacher training college (TSC 60-65). We might add that prominent industrialists hailing Modi as a future prime minister and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan acting as brand ambassador for Modi’s Gujarat indicates that certain sections of the elite favour fascism.
The author repeatedly makes the point that while fully-fledged fascism might be the preserve of the Sangh Parivar, the soft communalism of other parties including Congress (the hostility of some members to religious conversions, for example) provides fertile soil for extremism to grow. Almost universal acceptance of a society hierarchically structured by caste is another factor facilitating this growth. Systematic discrimination against Dalits, forcing them to engage in demeaning occupations like manual scavenging, and frequent gang-rapes, mass murder and arson attacks, indicate that the evils of untouchability and caste oppression are far from being eradicated. But what could the remedies be? The section on the logic of caste (TSC 207-324) examines this question.
The author also asks why, despite facing very similar oppression, Dalits and Muslims have failed to unite. On the contrary, Dalits and Adivasis have in some cases been recruited as storm-troopers in communal pogroms (e.g. in Gujarat), although others have acted in solidarity with Muslims. Dalit intellectual Kancha Illiah has blamed this on Muslim intellectuals who have been indifferent to the issues of caste and untouchability, but Gatade correctly observes this cannot explain how the same Dalits who had been the targets of casteist Hindutva violence since the anti-reservation riots of the early 1980s could find common cause with their oppressors (TSC 223). He suggests this is a classic case of the submergence of the Dalit identity within the ‘larger canopy’ of Hindu identity, and points out the parallel with the large-scale participation of Hindu women in the pogroms following the demolition of the Babri Mosque, despite the fact that Hindutva is similarly oppressive towards women. Dalits, he explains, have only two paths to social mobility: either to reject the religious edifice that sanctifies the caste system and seek an alternative identity, or to climb the social hierarchy by imitating the dominant castes. Their absorption within the ‘Brahminical-Fascist project of the Parivar’ (TSC 230) is an example of the latter.
Gatade examines the experiment of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in a particularly nuanced and illuminating way, showing that it has genuinely improved the position of Dalits in UP, and yet, by forming alliances with the BJP, soft-pedalling the activities of the Sangh Parivar, and Mayawati’s endorsement of Modi, has also served the Hindutva agenda. The conclusion seems to be that although state power can indeed be used to advance the interests of Dalits, the drive to capture it at any cost leads to adjustments that in the end undermine the cause of Dalit empowerment. The transition from a ‘Bahujan’ to a ‘Sarva Jan’ identity exemplifies the way in which electoral politics have affected the party’s agenda.
The continued prevalence of atrocities against Dalits and the ways in which the Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (1989) are routinely subverted are eerily reminiscent of the ways in which those who rape and kill Muslims manage to get away with it. And in this case too, the role of ‘civil society’ is not edifying: ‘Civil society…is complicit in perpetuating caste based inequalities, indignities and violence against SCs’. The author comments that so long as ‘caste inequality is accepted both in theory and practice, a legal constitution has no bearing on the ethical foundation of caste-based societies’ (TSC 270). It seems to follow that abolition of caste is the only solution, and reservations as a form of affirmative action were instituted in this belief. Yet sixty years later, not only do Dalits still suffer discrimination and violence, but they are themselves split along caste lines and caste remains all-pervasive. A weakness of the book is that it does not discuss possible alternative strategies such as a campaign for equal opportunities legislation, which would also have the merit of bringing together Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.
The last section of TSC deals with a variety of ways in which the state attacks human rights: through legislation like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which allows the armed forces to violate human rights with impunity, extra-judicial killings, torture, clamping down on social protests, incarcerating human rights defenders and so on. The struggles of Irom Sharmila, on hunger strike against AFSPA for over a decade, and Binayak Sen, a human rights defender and doctor serving the poor, are described.
Gatade belongs to the small section of left-wing writers and activists who take the task of combating the growth of fascism in India seriously. These important books should be read widely. However, a detailed index with sub-sections would have been helpful in both, since they are collections of articles, and pursuing a theme becomes difficult if the researcher has to go through several items in order to find a particular one. Hopefully this will be remedied in future editions.
[The above paper is also available at: http://www.sacw.net/article2658.html%5d
4. INDIA: CLOAKED DAGGERS [INTRIGUE AND DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN ENDANGERS INTEGRITY OF THE ARMED FORCES]
by Praful Bidwai
Frontline Column: Beyond the Obvious
The intrigue and disinformation campaign against the army chief is discrediting the institution itself.
So it now turns out, as many had suspected, that The Indian Express story alleging that there was unusual and un-notified movement on January 16 of two army attack formations towards the national capital, which “spooked New Delhi”, was a complete fabrication. The barely hidden suggestion in the story was that the troop movement ominously took place the night before Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) VK Singh moved the Supreme Court on the date of birth issue; it was a not-too-subtle way of the army flexing its muscle against civilian authority.
The troop movement violated no protocol of standard operating procedure. Such movements need to be notified to the defence ministry only if they involve corps-level strength. The story appears to be wrong on other details too, and has been dismissed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, defence minister AK Antony, and Gen Singh.
However, the real question is who fed or planted the story, and with what motive. We may never know for certain the answer to the first question, but the plausible motive seems to have been to discredit Gen Singh. One of his detractors, former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen HS Panag, said that the troop movement was an attempt by a “compromised [military] hierarchy” to “pre-empt” a likely decision by the defence ministry to sack the COAS. Gen Panag was relieved of his command after an anti-corruption inquiry in 2008, and has since retired. But he is a member of the Armed forces Tribunal. Thus, it was totally out of order for him to make these remarks.
A similar story was planted earlier about Gen Singh having ordered the clandestine interception of telephone conversations involving top defence ministry officials. This pointed to grave indiscipline. But the charge was never substantiated.
Even more important, the “controversy” about his year of birth (1951 or 1950) was raked up without any reference to the record pertinent to his promotion first as Lt General and later as a full General. The sole basis for regarding the date as 1950, which would entail the end of his tenure this year, was another document concerning his application to the National Defence Academy. A confidential letter from the COAS to Manmohan Singh, pointing out serious deficiencies in the army’s war preparedness, was also mysteriously leaked.
Clearly, a great deal of intrigue and disinformation has been at play in an institution which is supposed to follow exemplary standards of truthfulness, discipline and integrity. A possible clue to its source is provided in a writ petition moved before the Supreme Court by former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas, former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and three ex-generals, among others.
This reportedly alleges that a process or line of succession was launched by former COAS Gen JJ Singh by initiating something new called “the look-down policy”, which was calculated to favour certain officers and rig their promotions above the rank of brigadier. As a result, many likely contenders to army commanders’ positions were “eliminated” to ensure that Gen VK Singh would remain COAS only till May 2012 and that Lt Gen Bikram Singh, currently the Eastern Army Commander, would succeed him.
The petition also alleges that there was a “communal conspiracy” behind the rejection of Gen VK Singh’s claim for a revision in his date of birth, in particular, lobbying by Sikh organisations, and support from certain high government officials. Even if this allegation is discounted, the petition, which prima facie appears broadly truthful, raises disturbing questions about the process through which high-level army promotions and seniority lists were determined.
On March 3, Lt Gen Bikram Singh was designated as the next COAS—three months in advance, instead of the usual two months. But Gen Bikram Singh has two court cases pending against him: the first involving a fake “encounter” killing in Jammu and Kashmir in 2001, and the second concerning Indian troops’ misconduct, including rape, during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo under his charge in 2008. Surely, both propriety and convention demand that he should not have been designated the next COAS until he is cleared of these.
The defence ministry has also just cleared the names of Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag, head of Dimapur-based 3 Corps, and Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, military secretary, for promotion as army commanders. Gen Suhag was recently at the centre of a controversy triggered by the forwarding to the CBI of a complaint about his role in the purchase of parachutes as the head of the Special Frontier Force.
The CBI refused to investigate the complaint, made by Trinamool Congress MLA Ambica Banerjee, on the ground that Suhag had already been cleared by another government agency. As for Gen Chachra, his appointment as military secretary, in charge of transfers and postings, was reportedly opposed in the past by the defence ministry.
Evidently, there is very little coordination, accord or harmony between the armed forces and the civilian leadership, which is supposed to exercise supremacy over them in a democracy. Indeed, their relations are extremely strained, and marked by suspicion, distrust and a crisis of confidence. This does not generally bode well for the nation’s defence.
Particularly worrisome is the recent trend of the armed forces pronouncing themselves on policy matters, or speaking at cross purposes with the government on issues such as a resolution of the Siachen glacier dispute with Pakistan which has festered since 1984, and repealing or suspending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Siachen, the world’s highest-altitude military conflict, has taken a huge toll on the army, including the loss of an estimated 2,000 lives mainly thanks to frostbite, while driving thousands of soldiers into acute psychological disorders, and inflicting a daily expense of Rs 3 to 5 crores. India and Pakistan came close to resolving the dispute by agreeing to withdraw their troops from the glacier at least three times, in 1989, 2006 and 2011.
This was vetoed by the army—although occupying the icy heights confers no obvious strategic advantage In 2006, Gen JJ Singh publicly ruled out his army’s withdrawal until its positions on the glacier are marked and recorded. As former U.S. ambassador David Mulford put it in a cable disclosed by WikiLeaks, “Army Chief JJ Singh appears on the front page of the “Indian Express” seemingly fortnightly to tell readers the Army cannot support a withdrawal from Siachen. Given India’s high degree of civilian control over the armed forces, it is improbable that Gen. Singh could repeatedly make such statements without MoD civilians giving at least tacit approval.”
In a democracy, it is illegitimate for the armed forces to defy civilian authority in this manner. Similarly, in the recent debate over AFSPA, whose withdrawal is demanded by the J&K government—not least because of a dramatic reduction in cross-border infiltration amidst declining militancy—several army commanders lobbied against the move and even threatened to stop counterinsurgency operations if the “indispensable” Act is lifted. It is the same story in Manipur.
AFSPA is a draconian law unworthy of a civilised society. It grants impunity to an officer who kills civilians on the mere suspicion that they may be about to commit a violent act or even violate prohibitory orders which are imposed at the drop of a hat. To top it all, the government is taking refuge behind AFSPA in refusing to sanction the prosecution of military personnel found by the police to have committed murder, culpable homicide or rape.
In J&K alone, the home ministry refused such sanction in 42 cases in recent months, provoking the Supreme Court to remark: “You go to a place in exercise of AFSPA, you commit rape, you commit murder, then where is the question of sanction?” Among the cases is the Pathribal killing of five innocent civilians in March 2000, on the palpably false ground that they were Lashkar-e-Taiba militants responsible for the massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chhittisinghpura.
Army units have been recently implicated in a number of fake “encounters” such as the cold-blooded execution of villagers at Ganderbal in 2007, and at Macchel in 2010. More details of excessive use of force and torture by them are available at the Asian Centre for Human Rights website: http://www.achrweb.org/ihrrq/issue1/indian_army.html.
Corruption is now rampant in the army, as scandals involving numerous arms deals since Bofors and HDW submarines in the 1980s to the more recent Tatra trucks case, and the Sukna land scam and Adarsh Housing Society scandal, all demonstrate. The biggest cases are related to India’s growing participation in the super-corrupt global arms bazaar since the Kargil conflict (1999), which has made it the world’s biggest arms importer in 2007-2011. More corruption can be expected as India spends an estimated $80 billion on armaments acquisition over the next five years.
While there is no direct link between corruption and the armed forces’ defiance of civilian authority or outright lawlessness and “encounter” killings, a culture of impunity is common to all. Despite his faults and mistakes, VK Singh deserves support for opposing this and fighting corruption. We must not tolerate or condone impunity in the name of defending the forces’ morale. What is at stake is the institutional integrity of the armed forces, no less.—end--
5. INDIA: SIACHEN SUMMIT
The Times of India, 24 April 2012
Siachen – the world’s highest battlefield at an average altitude of some 20,000 feet above sea level – both literally and metaphorically represents the height of human folly. In the ice fields of Siachen, war is not just hell; it is hell frozen over. The high altitude and sub-zero temperatures of that bleak landscape will not permit any form of life to exist there except the seemingly expendable lives of the Indian and Pakistani troops who, since 1984, have been engaged in a military stand-off in what is not only the world’s highest theatre of conflict but also one of its most costly.
It is estimated that maintaining a presence in Siachen costs India and Pakistan some 3 crore to 3.5 crore a day each. But Siachen exacts a much heavier toll than mere money. Between 1984-1997, nearly 2,000 Indian soldiers died on the frozen wastes of Siachen, more of them killed by the cruel environment than by enemy action. On the Pakistani side the toll, till 1999, is estimated at over 1,300.
The latest victims of Siachen were the 130-odd Pakistani soldiers who were buried alive by an avalanche that once again catapulted a forgotten war back into the media headlines. As Pakistanis mourned the senseless loss of their compatriots, Pakistan’s army chief, General Kayani, called for a resolution of the Siachen dispute. Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif also made a similar appeal to reach a negotiated settlement. So, is a solution for Siachen in sight? No way. Immediately following Kayani’s and Sharif’s proposals, spokesmen from both sides dispelled hopes of an early thaw in Siachen’s militarised status quo.
A Pakistani foreign office representative made it clear at a press conference that, while Islamabad was ready to hold talks with New Delhi on the issue, there was no basic change in Pakistan’s stance on Siachen. Similarly, while India’s minister of state for defence, Pallam Raju, regretted the ‘economic toll’ the conflict was taking on both sides, defence analysts reaffirmed the unchanged nature of the deadlock.
The Indian defence establishment claims that India has an advantage over Pakistan in Siachen which it doesn’t want to give up lest Pakistan attempt another Kargil-like incursion. Are such fears justified? Perhaps. But the real problem with Siachen is not just Pakistan and its possible motives. The real problem with Siachen – as is the case with all armed conflicts – is that it is a self-perpetuating absurdity. The first casualty of any war – before a single shot is fired or a single soldier is sent to the front – is the human capacity to reason and negotiate.
FUUL TEXT AT: http://goo.gl/y1c3W
6. INDIA: BJP IN KARNATAKA - BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
From EPW, 17 April 21 - April 27, 2012
In Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been essentially thriving by working through caste – specifi cally on the consolidated support of upper caste Lingayats – and not on the basis of a broader Hindutva ideology. The irony is that the tenets of Lingayat ideology are inspired by the liberal humanism espoused by the 12th century poet-philosopher-reformer Basavanna and his followers and this philosophical position is in direct antagonism with the Hindutva ideology. But then “Basava Dharma” as practised and preached by most of the Lingayat maths in Karnataka today is in tune with Hindutva.
7. INDIA - GUJARAT: A CONVERSATION WITH ZUBER JAFRI
April 24, 2012, 4:02 am
By Sruthi Gottipati
Ahsan Jafri, center, addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1977.Courtesy of Zuber JafriAhsan Jafri, center, addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1977.
A decade ago, Ahsan Jafri, a former member of parliament, was killed in the riots that besieged the state of Gujarat. On Feb. 28, 2002, witnesses said that Muslim women and children sought refuge in Mr. Jafri’s home in the Gulberg Housing Society, and that he made frantic phone calls seeking help because a mob that had gathered outside. The police arrived too late, survivors had said, and Mr. Jafri was killed along with 69 others when the mob set fire to his home. His widow, Zakia Jafri, filed suit in court in an effort, she says, to find justice.
Earlier this month, a Supreme Court-appointed investigative team said it had found no evidence against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, whom Ms. Jafri and others hold accountable for the carnage. Zuber, the youngest of Mr. Jafri’s three children, lives in the United States with his wife and children. He recently shared his family’s reactions to the investigative team’s report, his thoughts on the Indian judicial system, and on his father’s legacy, with India Ink.
When did you move to the U.S.? Where do you work?
I moved to the U.S. in 1999. I am the CTO (chief technology officer) for a private firm in Delaware.
Are your siblings here with your mother or in the U.S.? Could you tell me a little bit about them?
My elder brother, Tanveer, is in Surat [a city in Gujarat] and my mother is with him. My elder sister, Nishrin, is in the U.S. Tanveer is deputy general manager with L&T while Nishrin is a comptroller with a private company in Delaware.
What was your reaction to the Special Investigative Team findings?
I think SIT was assigned a task of investigation and they have collected a lot of data and now it is the court who will decide the future course. The phone call data collected by [police] officer Rahul Sharma needs to be analyzed properly to investigate the presence of criminals and officers in the places of mass killings.
The government of Gujarat, instead of awarding the bravery of Rahul Sharma, has started a false investigation against the officer. This clearly shows the motive of the government. It’s trying to hide the truth and is harassing officers trying to reveal the truth. Interrogation of Modi was a totally one-sided affair, allowing him to give a false portrait of what happened in 2002 in front of the world. No counter questions were asked by the officer involved in the interrogation.
My family has not seen the SIT report or [the amicus curiae, or impartial legal expert, on the case] Raju Ramachandran’s report so we don’t know the details. What we understand from the court order is that SIT has found no evidence against 62 accused, including Modi. This in no way stops the struggle for justice for the victims of 2002 Gujarat riots. Now, the court will have to decide on the basis of the data collected whether to accept SIT’s recommendation or start a fresh investigation.
What are the next steps forward for you and your family?
Zakia Jafri sits inside the remains of her former residence at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, Feb. 27, 2012, which was one of the worse affected neighborhoods during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Ms. Jafri's husband, Ahsan was killed during the massacre on February 28, 2002.Sam Panthaky/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesZakia Jafri sits inside the remains of her former residence at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, Feb. 27, 2012, which was one of the worse affected neighborhoods during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Ms. Jafri’s husband, Ahsan was killed during the massacre on February 28, 2002.
My mom is a very brave woman, very strong, and she has dedicated this struggle for truth and justice to my father. Tanveer, my brother, is standing strong along with her, the entire family is along with her. Teesta Setalvad and CJP[Citizens for Justice and Peace], along with so many lawyers, have been part of the struggle for the last 10 years. The resolve has only gotten stronger after the SIT report. She is not alone in this struggle. There are thousands of people who have reached out to her for support and are standing up for truth to come out.
One of the books in my father’s library that got burnt in 2002 was of Martin Luther King and I still remember him reading to us a quote of King’s: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We believe justice will not elude thousands of victims of 2002 riots.
What have you struggled with since your father has been killed? How have your initial perceptions changed over the last decade?
While growing up, we were aware of the spreading problem of communalism. Our house was burnt in 1969 before I was born. My family along with Tanveer and Nishrin were in camps for a month before my father built the house again and returned to the same neighborhood. We saw him working tirelessly against the forces of communalism and ultimately he paid the highest price with his life. I believe the task of building bridges between different communities affected by riots has become that much harder because of a lack of remorse and justice in Gujarat.
Ahsan Jafri with grand children Aniqua (L) and Wasim along with daughter-in-law Duraiya Jafri in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1994.Courtesy of Zuber JafriAhsan Jafri with grand children Aniqua (L) and Wasim along with daughter-in-law Duraiya Jafri in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1994.
What has helped you through this period?
My father’s poetry and the goodness he represented has kept me going. My mother and my family have given me strength to continue. I always listen to his poetry in his own voice. It gives me inspiration when feeling alone. He was a nationalist and his poems reflect his thoughts on nation and the problem of communalism. These are a few lines from his poem “Mera Watan” [My Country] and “Qaumi Yakjehti,” [National Unity].
Geeton Se Teri Zulfon Ko
Meera Ne Sanwara
Gautam Ne Sada Di
Tujhe Nanak Ne Pukara
Khusro Ne Kai Rangon Se
Daaman Ko Nikhara
Har Dil Mein Mohabbat Ki
Ukhuwat Ki Lagan Hai
Ye Mera Watan, Mera Watan
Mera Watan Hai
Apni dagar pe usne kante bicha diye hain
Khwabon ke sare kheeme us ne jala diye hain
Ulfat ke sare qisse usne mita diye hain
Minar dosti ke usne gira diye hain
Mere watan ke logo bipta bari padi hai
Mil jul ke sath rehna ellane zindagi hai
Khushyon ko baat dena farmane zindagi hai
Ghairon ka dard sehna unwane zindagi hai
Sab ke kiye ho jeena armane zindagi hai
Mere watan ke logo bipta badi padi hai
(You can listen to his poems here.)
Do you believe in the Indian judicial system?
I do and I believe justice will be served ultimately. My father served his country’s judicial system with distinction as a member of parliament and as a lawyer all his life. We believe justice has been delayed but justice will not be denied.
Do you think the media has got anything wrong in the coverage of your mother’s case?
I think Indian media has played mostly a positive role in keeping the issue and struggle for justice alive for the victims. Gujarat government would have closed all the cases within months if it weren’t for the activists and media bringing the real facts in front of the people after the riots.
(The interview has been lightly edited.)
8. INDIA: GUNS AND INDIA'S SAMAJWADI PARTY
24 Apr 2012
‘Gun culture’ hard to shed for SP
SP worker fires at official
27 Mar 2012 – Lucknow, March 26: A Samajwadi Party worker barged into a Jhansi district ... Then he asked me if he could show me how to fire a gun.
Samajwadi Party supporters shoot into the air - India - DNA
Child dies in Samajwadi candidate's victory celebration firing ...
9. INDIA: THE PAKISTANI REVOLUTIONARY ROCK BAND, LAAL, ROCKS DELHI
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
Young Pakistani revolutionary rock band Laal took Delhi by storm even as hundreds of men and women, young and old, rocked and danced to songs of legendary rebels and genius Pakistani poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, who were jailed for their outspoken verse against military dictatorships, and injustices of all kinds. Faiz, himself an ardent communist, came alive across the Delhi landscape, from Hardrock Café in South Delhi on April 19, to the Press Club of India in Lutyens’ Delhi on April 22, and at the jam-packed amphi theatre in Habitat Centre the next day.
The amphi theatre show by the fabulous non-conformist band was called Shaam-e-Laal – A Red Evening, celebrating the great legacy of the struggles by communists across the many spectrums, with songs for workers, peasants, ordinary people, and songs of revolution. Like the song which says, “Do what you have to do, don’t worry about the consequences,” with loud clapping from across the audience, and young girls and boys dancing, moved by the compassion and dialectic of the idea of revolutionary transformation in society. Even the Press Club was packed with journalists and others, with slogans of Laal Salaam resonating in the night.
Indeed, Laal carries no baggage of the communist past, its orthodox dogmatism or factional sectarianism; it reinterprets realism of struggle and the continuous narrative of contemporary times with stunningly modern symbolism, using rock and fast music to appeal to a refreshing young sensibility. With flute and drums making a magical synthesis, the sounds of the night were fiery and furious, even as there was much laughter and happiness. “We are always facing tragedies. So why not smile a bit, and laugh, and dream, and dance, and rock,” said Taimur Rahman, lead vocalist of Laal. “Karl Marx said, ‘Revolution is a festival of the masses’. So why shouldn’t we celebrate this festival.”
Clearly, the ambience, for instance at the amphi theatre, was that of non conformism with the performer and the audience becoming one in unision, with no hierarchies, and no celebrity gimmicks; this was no antiseptic show from the pulpit
Clearly, the ambience, for instance at the amphi theatre, was that of non conformism with the performer and the audience becoming one in unision, with no hierarchies, and no celebrity gimmicks; this was no antiseptic show from the pulpit. The singer would enter the audience space, and the audience would sing with him, as the open to sky courtyard resonated with Laal’s favourite songs, including that of legendary Sufi icon Baba Farid, who walked from Bukhara to Badaiun in UP, and became a prophet of humanism. The songs celebrated the synthesis of cultures and communities, opposed religious fundamentalism of all varieties and stood in solidarity with the struggles of the poorest of the poor.
The evening was rocking from the beginning. A simple banner welcomed Laal while e-mail messages spread across networks of lovers of the band. Witness the e-<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)