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[act] sacw dispatch 1st Jan.2000

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch 1st January 2000 ___________________ #1. South Asia Peace Conference in Calcutta #2. Bangladesh: Secular Activists grand rally
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2000
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      South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch
      1st January 2000
      #1. South Asia Peace Conference in Calcutta
      #2. Bangladesh: Secular Activists grand rally in Dhaka on 2nd Jan.
      #2. Let us work for a new dawn in the New Millennium
      Calcutta on net [http://www.calonline.com]
      29 December 1999

      Former Pak army officials likely to join peace conference in city

      December 28: A good number of senior army officials of Pakistan may march
      hand in hand with their Indian counterparts at a 100,000 strong peace
      march on January 19 in Calcutta. About 60 human rights activists of
      Pakistan have applied for visa-including the ex-army officials-to attend
      the 12th South Asian peace meet under the aegis of the Akhil Bharat
      Rachanatmak Samaj, a forum of Gandhian constructive workers and Harijan
      Sevak Sangha, that are together hosting the annual All India Constructive
      Workers' Conference at Yuva Bharati Krirangan between January 18 and 20.

      Disclosing this in Calcutta today, former MP, Kumari Nirmala Deshpandey,
      spiritual daughter of the legendary Sarvodaya leader, Acharya Vinobha
      Bhabe, said that among the 15, 000 delegates that are expected to be
      participating, are a good number of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan,
      Nepalese and Bhutanese peace and village level activists.

      Taking part in the press meet, member of the Rajya Sabha and central
      committee of the CPI(M), Biplab Dasgupta, stated that the peace march
      would be flagged off by the West Bengal chief minister, Jyoti Basu and the
      key note address on January 18 would be delivered by the former CPI MP,
      Hiren Mukherjee. The various sessions include one on peace initiatives in
      South Asia under the banner of Association of Peoples of Asia and
      non-violent agriculture, which in a sense is organic farming, Deshpande
      added. Eminent Pakistani intellectuals who have expressed willingness to
      join are Mubarak Ali, well known scholar on Islamic history, Taher
      Mohammad Khan, former minister in the Benazir Bhutto cabinet and chairman
      of Baluchistan Human Rights Committee and Karachi-based trade union leader
      Karamat Ali. "There are about 1, 000 participants from Jammu and Kashmir
      who will take part in our three-day conference," Deshpande stated.

      Daily Star
      1st January 2000

      Campaign against anti-liberation forces
      Grand rally at Paltan Maidan[Dhaka] tomorrow

      Members of different progressive political parties along with
      intellectuals, cultural activists, professionals and students will throng
      the historic Paltan maidan in the capital at 2 pm tomorrow aiming to
      launch a countrywide campaign against anti-liberation forces and for a ban
      communal politics in the country, reports BSS. All necessary preparations
      have been completed to hold the grand national rally. Progressive people
      from the rally will take a fresh vow to root out communal politics from
      the country and hold trial of the collaborators of the Pakistani
      occupation forces in the new millennium, the rally organisers say.

      "The main objective of holding the rally under the banner of "Ekatturer
      Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Jatiya Samannaya Committee" is to free the country
      from the clutches of "Razakars" (Collaborators) in the next millennium,"
      convenor of the committee Syed Hasan Imam told BSS yesterday.

      "We are thinking of a collaborator free secular country to uphold the
      spirit of the country's war of liberation in the next millennium where the
      trial of the killers and collaborators of the 1971 will take place," Imam

      He said a series of countrywide programmes would be announced against the
      collaborators from the grand rally expected to be one of the larger
      gatherings of progressive forces in recent years.

      Meanwhile, a representative meeting of different political parties,
      cultural workers, and professionals was held at the BMA Bhaban on
      Wednesday with convenor of the Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Jatiya Sammannaya
      Committee Syed Hasan Imam in the chair.

      The meeting discussed various aspects to make the programme a success
      through bringing of the pro-liberation progressive forces to a single

      Besides, Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, an alliance of different cultural
      groups, yesterday brought out a procession on the city streets with a
      renewed pledge to build a secular Bangladesh in the next millennium.

      The procession attended by educationists, journalists, cultural activists,
      students and eminent citizens of the country, began from the Dhaka
      University campus and ended at the Jatiya Press Club premises.

      The processionists carried national flags and placards inscribing
      different slogans against the anti-liberation elements in the country.

      Jote president Ramendu Majumder, journalist and columnist Faiz Ahmed,
      Artiste Syed Hasan Imam, Director General of Bangla Academy Dr Syed Anwar
      Hossain, writer Shariar Kabir, BFUJ president Abul Kalam Azad, journalists
      Azizul Islam Bhuiyan, Shafiqur Rahman, freedom fighter and women leader
      Rawshan Jahan Sathi, Hasan Arif, Kamal Pasha Chowdhury, Tarik Sujat and
      journalist Enamul Haq Babul, among others, took part in the procession.
      January 1, 2000

      Let us work for a new dawn in the New Millennium
      By V.B.Rawat

      As we are nearing to end the year, the cold wave and foggy season has made
      the visibility on the road very difficult. The future of the Indian
      subcontinent seems to be that blurred when we embark on a new century next
      year. 20th century saw the dawn of democratic regimes and terminology of
      human rights getting wider respect and acceptability, the violence as part
      of disagreement with the state also became the hall mark of this century.
      But the end would be like this as we have been witnessing for the past few
      days in Kandahar, was not imagined.

      The well known fact is that democracy is a majority view point where
      minority's choice and thoughts are considered to be detrimental to the
      'national' interest, while majority's demand's and view point are turned as
      'nationalism'. In most of the so-called democracies of the sub-continent
      such things were witnessed during the last fifty years resulting in utter
      chaos, bloodshed and turmoil. Intellectual's from India always harped on
      the thesis on the great democratic vision of our 'secular' leaders and
      plural society where every one live with peace. Was it true in the last
      fifty years. Who were the victims of the state controlled violence ? The
      notoriety of police force like PAC in Uttar-Pradesh is well known. Even the
      central forces stood silent in Ayodhya on December 6th, 1992. The role of
      Bombay police in the Bombay massacre is well known. All over India, the
      police oppression against the Dalits, tribal and Muslims remains unabated.
      In the name of TADA, ISI, displacement, dams, protest over wages, Naxalism,
      communism , separatism and so on and on.. The list is long and so are the
      pressure techniques of the State. Apart from this, the role of state has
      been ambiguous to the problems of these sections of society. So Indians
      have seen a brahmanical domination over the administration, army and
      judiciary in the last fifty years in the name of either secularism or
      Hindutva, the situation in other parts of the subcontinent is worst.
      Pakistan, whose tryst with democracy seems to falter every time when
      politicians and people feel that institutions are taking root there.
      Pakistan was born in the name of Urdu and Islam, though Jinnah promised in
      his constituent assembly address in Pakistan that it would be a secular
      socialist republic which he would like to preside over, but that was a
      dream which died with Jinnah itself. Pakistan’s Punjabi dominated military
      and political leadership could never digest any Urdu speaking migrant elite
      to dominate them. Mohajir's are foreigner's in their own country while the
      plight of Ahmadi’s is well known to us. The condition of minorities in
      Pakistan can not be a matter of satisfaction for any civilised government
      and political establishment in the world. The relief with which the
      Pakistan people looked after dislodge of Nawaz Sharif and Benzir's
      government and political parties clearly indicate how frustrated the people
      have become with political leaders. The challenges from women to the
      religious class which include the so-called

      liberals and fundamentalists have always created social turmoil in the
      subcontinent. We have heard even Liberal Hindus and Muslims condemning
      Tasleema Nasreen and Kamala Das Suraiya as both exposed their so called
      religion. Both have found virtue beyond their original religion. However,
      it could be a matter of discussion whether any right thinking rationalists
      person can find solace in the limited walls created by the religion. Some
      years back, Tehmina Durani wrote " My feudal Lord" exposing the anti-woman
      feudal society of Pakistan elite. We in India do not lag behind on the
      issue. Neither other parts of the subcontinent lag behind on the issue of
      women's suppression.

      But suddenly, our media has developed the concept of women’s liberation
      through beauty parades. The way this entire business of beauty has been
      highlighted by the press in India does not give good sign. It does not give
      any credit to our media. The same media which highlight the irrational
      culture of the country in the name of faith, glorify the beauty business
      and termed them as the 'women of substance'. We always say that
      prostitution was a compulsion for the poor but what is it for the rich and
      corporate. Perhaps business. This subcontinent had a number of women prime
      ministers from Sirmao and Chandrika in Sril Lanka, Indira Gandhi in India,
      Benzir in Pakistan and Khalida Zia and Shaikh Hasina in Bangladesh. Can
      these women really termed as those who have done something for the rights
      of women. In fact, most of them were highly fundamentalist and served the
      male society. They were more interested in projecting them as more
      religious and cultural one, just like any other household women who live in
      the male dominated society under the shadow of her husband and male rules.

      Since the right to information has been hijacked by the feudal media in all
      the countries, it has become difficult to have people to people contact in
      the subcontinent. There are some elite organisation, far away from the
      people working in this area but how can the news-papers, books, articles be
      shared in both the countries. How can we meet them, share our grievances.
      As long as we believe the official nationalistic version of our country
      being fetched through our official and so-called independent media, we will
      always make ourselves as enemies of each other. The political leadership
      and beaurocracies of both India and Pakistan could not sit and sort out
      their genuine problems. Is it not a betrayal to partition fifty years back
      when we had thought that partition would sort our all the problems and now
      on wards we shall be living in peace and neighbours, but also a betrayal to
      the people of the subcontinent who now need reconciliation. Have we become
      mature enough to think in these terms of reconciliation as we approach a
      new millennium.

      In Sri-Lanka which is the only surviving democracy apart from India during
      the last fifty years. However, democracy in Sri-Lanka also meant
      consolidation of Sinhala power and isolation of Tamils over the years.
      Pushed to the wall, the Tamil’s obviously succumbed to the massive
      propaganda of the subversive forces like LTTE which considered that only a
      separate Tamil state was the right answer to solve the ethnic problem of
      Sri-Lanka. India did support the subversive activities in the earlier days
      and later on send its own army there to fight the Tamil Tigers, which was
      seen as grand Indian imperialist designs by a large number of people in
      Sri-Lanka. Rajiv Gandhi was the first major victim of LTTE who later on
      killed a large number of Tamil leaders in Sri-Lanka including Lalith
      Atulath Mudli, Neelam Tiruvechalam. The last attempt was made on president
      Kumartunga when she had just finished an election meeting in Colombo. Now
      where will these violent method take either to Tamil forces or the Sinhalas
      who will definitely retaliate in the form of state repression. But any
      demand for separate independent state will have wide repurcussion as it
      will only add strength to those who believe in greater Tamil Nationalism
      which has still a large number of votaries in Tamilnadu.

      Bangladesh was born in 1971 with a revolt by Bangla people against the west
      Pakistan's Punjabi-Sindhi domination over them. Bangladesh showed that
      partition in the name of religion was not only wrong but thoroughly
      unjustified. But the fundamentalist leadership in Bangladesh could not
      tolerate democracy.. It had seen many military rulers including those who
      now swear with democracy and secularism. The truth is that Bangladesh is
      trading a difficult path.. the Bangla identity question seems to be getting
      diluted and it is the religious identity which has become dominant there
      again endangering the long tradition of Bangla people who fought together
      against the communal onslaught of the Raj. Bangladesh is the latest victim
      of fundamentalist forces who want the issues of the masses like illiteracy,
      poverty, hunger in the backburner but their religion should dominate come
      what. Taslima Nasreen could not have faced the danger on her life had the
      fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh not grown up during the past few years.
      Unfortunately, they are rapidly rising and hence the main problem in this
      tiny state is not to fight against poverty, illiteracy and corruption but

      The less said about Nepal is the better. A country which proudly proclaim
      to be the only Hindu country and due to which the 'secular' Indian
      government's always opened their door without any Visa, seems to be
      bothering the nation more than Pakistan. Nepal never tested the British Raj
      but it had its own Hindu Raj which destroyed it completely. Today, there is
      a democracy which has lost its significance as corruption has pervaded in
      all the political parties, as the issues of landless peasants, Dalits,
      women’s are not taken interest by those in power. Nepal has become a hot
      bed for terrorists forces operating which has become easier during the past
      few years. The lone Hindu nation of the world has not been able to give
      justice to Dalits during the past fifty years. The Kamaya system is still a
      blot on the face of Nepalese society. The monarchy in Nepal created its own
      colony. Today, Nepal is a boom for NGO industry being funded from abroad
      but other industries are no where in Nepal. Democracy could not give the
      poorest of the poor a say in the decision making of the country. The King
      enjoys the inner-fight among the politicians.

      Where do the South Asian go in the new millennium ? Will they force their
      government to join together and stop playing with their lives ? And the
      biggest question is that how minority view point is accommodated ? Minority
      view point does not necessarily mean minority's view point. Will our
      government come together and think over the issue of Kashmir.. How long
      will we do this ? It has become an issue for both India and Pakistan which
      no side would like itself to be seen as having lost the territory ? This is
      also a fact that nobody in India and Pakistan is ready to dilute his/her
      position on Kashmir because of political compulsion. It mean a political
      suicide ? But then how long will we allow butchering of our people by the
      rising militancy. For us they are militants but for a large number of
      ethno-religious minorities they are the freedom fighters ? As the years,
      passed our ruling elite failed to understand this parochialism which term
      as nationalism. In 1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi, to assure the Hindus about
      their future in Punjab, allowed an army operation in the Golden Temple,
      Amritsar. A large number of people from both sides were killed. There were
      revolt by Sikh groups in the forces but by and large the country passed
      peacefully. On October 31st, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated at her
      residenceŠ and the next three days would be counted as the darkest days in
      the history of post independence India. In utter disregard to law and
      administration, the Police with the help of those in power butchered
      civilian Sikhs as a mark of 'teach them a lesson'. The Sikh had lost a
      complete faith in the Indian government at Delhi which they considered as
      the one trying to denigrate them and their religion.

      On December 6th, 1992, when the Dalits of India offer their tribute to
      their father Dr Ambedkar, the Brahmanical forces lead by the Sangh Parivar
      exposed its tolerance. Babri Masjid was demolished in the broad day light
      under the very protection of those forces which keenly entered the Golden
      Temple. Why ? After the demolition, the Sangh mind went on rampages and
      Kanpur, Baroda, Surat and Bombay saw their worst anti-Muslim disturbances
      with active participation of the local admnistration and police.

      These two things have an interesting contrast. The Sikhs during 1984 period
      were always a suspect in the eyes of law. The were something different
      creature who were out to damage India. They had gathered ammunition at the
      Golden temple’ hence they needed to be flushed out. Now the goondas and
      miscreants of Sangh Parivar did the same thing at Ayodhya on December 6th
      and the aftermath but they are not termed as either terrorists or
      militants. The Policemen at the duty offered them water and shared their
      'prasad'. One former chief minister was proudly proclaiming his allegiance
      to Lord Rama rather than to the constitution of India. Though, the Sangh
      Parivar has thrown him away to his right place. A non Brahmin, even if he
      is an Advani has nothing in the scheme of RSS and its allied organisation.

      The plunderer become nationalists of modern Hindu Rastra which proudly
      display Pepsi and Coke at the Gandhi Samadhi with active yes from the
      Gandhians. Today, we are told to understand our culture.. make a pilgrimage
      to Ayodhya. It is further added that our tolerance has a limit.. The
      Muslims and Christians are crossing the limit.. they are fundamentalists. I
      do not know what do they mean by toleranceŠIs it tolerance when you would
      not allow a Dalit to wear slipper in his village.. Is it tolerance when you
      are not allowing them to either enter the temples or not allowing them to
      celebrate their functions whether marriages or any other one. Where is our
      tolerance vis-a vis Dalits and tribal.

      For the past 8 days, our TV, media is 100% hijacked by the hijackers in
      Kandahar. without showing any sympathy for the criminals who have done it,
      one need to ask the question whether our heart beat increases when the
      violence is committed on Dalits, tribal, minorities or even the upper caste
      whose class is much below than those elite air travellers. Right from
      Shankarbigha to Laxmanpur Bathe to Chundur to Kumher, we cannot get
      anything from our media..the upper caste dominated media which has hijacked
      our right to information. It is this media in the last 10 years which
      continue to deny us information. It is the corporate media. It is the media
      which want to portray everything as truth which its master’s are
      manipulating. Thus, our news-papers wholeheartedly support the
      liberalisation process. They are more keen than the political parties to
      pass every legislation passed that the United States of America want us to
      do but when the question of entry of foreign media in India come, these
      same mediamen turn angry against the government. Here they make lot of
      noises about the future of the country and everything after allowing every
      one from Star to BBC in the electronic media to capture our skies. It is
      the double standard which our dominating elite has been talking for the
      past fifty years. Look, how the Indian media has been projecting the WTO
      fiasco. A self proclaimed economist writes in his weekly column that since
      the communism has finished politically from Europe, it is still existing in
      the form of NGOs. He was very unhappy with the labour standard and
      environmental talk being pursued by the NGOs at the Seattle meeting. For
      the last 20 years our media has been writing endlessly on the need to
      reduce the subsidy from Petroleum products including Petrol, Diesel,
      Kerosene a and cooking gas as we need to compete with the international
      market, than why are we opposing to follow the same labour standard which
      a European and American company maintain for its labours.

      Hence when we enter the New Millennium, there should be more interaction
      with each other specially the peace brigade of the subcontinent. Our
      leaders have made their coffer full by persistently pursuing the hard line
      agenda and continuous defence budget. A change has seen in the last few
      years, the government does not say anything but the 'dalals'. They want the
      government to increase the defence budget, do this and that. Our leaders do
      not have the shame that we have the largest number of illiterate and poor
      people in the world. One want to retain Kashmir and the other want to
      capture it at whatever cost, as if they have fulfilled all other obligation
      to their people. How will we force our leaders to think on the people’s
      issue. Will we respect a note on dissent or term him as a rebel.

      The outstanding part of the last ten years was the coming together of
      activists of the subcontinent and their supporters and friends outside.
      Email and Internet has to some extent broken the monopoly of the media. At
      least, it is not their sole domain, and we are happy to find news clipping
      from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri-Lanka and similarly, I am sure,
      friends of these countries should be happy with these events. Let us hope
      that our bond will be strengthened since internet users in the
      subcontienent are very few, it will great if we pass on this information to
      the grass-roots in their own language and bring their stories to each other
      by such forums. It will thus completely break the monopoly of the
      ‘professionals.’ We should not feel sorry for our circulation as I feel it
      personally that even if 100 committed people reads us, it is much better
      than writing for an English daily where edit page is regularly passing
      through a denigration and the average reader does not read it.

      I am particularly mentioning two names of Mr Harsh Kapoor and SP Udaykumar
      for their immense contribution in bringing the South Asian activists
      together and making a people's agneda for this region who has turned as one
      of most dangerous zone not only from the view point of armament but also
      due to illiteracy, hunger and malnutrition. I must thank them on part of
      all the activists.. Let us begin the new millennium with a challenge to
      those who have purposedly put the people's issues on the backburner.

      Hope their will be peace and prosperity all over the world and we will be
      more civilised and sensitised towards those denied basic human rights for
      long. Let us hope that the new millennium will be the millennium of
      rational and radical democracies all over the world where the basic agenda
      of the government would be on education, human rights and human development
      SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WEB DISPATCH is an informal, independent &
      non-profit citizens wire service run by South Asia Citizens Web
      (http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex) since1996.
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