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SACW Dispatch | 2 October 00

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch 2 October 2000 http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex [ IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL ! This SACW has been put on a limited circulation till
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2000
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      South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch
      2 October 2000

      This SACW has been put on a limited circulation till further notice; A very
      serious problem with an infinite loop of e-mail messages getting delivered
      100's of times has been reported by various recipients in India. This
      problem is only limited to recipients with vsnl accounts in located mostly
      in the New Delhi region. All the recipients affected have recieved repeated
      deliveries of the SACW dispatch of 29th and 30th September. Everything is
      being attempted to control & end this harmful and disruptive process. More
      on this later !]

      #1. On Kashmir & Pakistan Foreign Policy (Asma Jahangir)
      #2. Pakistan: Jinnah: Making a myth (Mubarak Ali)
      #3. Why do Hindutva ideologues keep flogging a dead horse? (Romila Thapar)
      #4. Kashmir: Paper Jehadis and the Lie of the Land (Pankaj Mishra)
      #5. Kashmir: Light Beyond the veil (Murali Krishnan / Outlook)



      2 October 2000

      Whither are we?

      By Asma Jahangir

      THE General, Chief Executive of Pakistan, arrived like an empty vessel at
      the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York. His noise made little
      sense to the international community, who yawned at his offer for peace and
      a no-war pact to India.

      A leader, who claims he has little control over militants in his country
      and "spiritually" supports the strategy of "jihad", is not likely to be
      taken seriously, especially as he does not officially head the "jihadis",
      who are central to the tensions between the two countries - India and

      Our Chief Executive sounded more like a deposed Maharaja of Kashmir,
      rather than an interim military ruler of Pakistan, who had vowed to restore
      "pure and true" democracy to the country - a promise made by every man on

      The government's commitment to raise the issue of violations of human
      rights in Indian held Kashmir is laudable. They must continue to do so, but
      in a sincere and coherent manner. A government which has banned political
      activities and refuses to hold general elections in its own country can
      hardly be expected to champion the cause of human rights of the people of
      Kashmir. To give weight to his concerns regarding the situation of human
      rights in Kashmir, the Chief Executive would be best advised to improve the
      record of human rights domestically too.

      Is he concerned about the two hundred and thirtythree suicides committed
      in the last seven months because of economic desperation? Did he wince at
      the story of eve-teasing of women at Al-hamra, where young men stroked the
      terrified women like vultures? What did he do for the pregnant woman who
      was killed and her stomach slashed by a dare-devil male relative in the
      name of honour? Does he get disturbed at the rising misuse of the blasphemy

      A Hindu income tax inspector gets lynched in the presence of the army
      personnel for allegedly having made a remark on the beard of a trader.
      Promptly, the unfortunate Hindu government servant is booked for having
      committed blasphemy, while the traders and the Lashkar-e-Tayaba activists
      were offered tea over parleys. A seventy-year-old Mukhtaran Bibi and her
      pregnant daughter Samina are languishing in Sheikhupura jail on
      trumpeted-up charges of blasphemy.

      Pakistan ranks as one of the front-runners in imposing death penalty -
      over 4,00 prisoners are on the death row. Children, as young as twelve
      years old, are in jails. One such child has been awarded death penalty.
      Insecurity is acute and pervasive and militancy has turned into barbarism.
      It has left a chilling effect on our society. Every able-bodied person is
      making plans to opt out and leave his motherland. People of Northern Areas
      have no rights. They do not even have the right to vote. They are without a
      High Court or elected representatives.

      Elections are regularly rigged in Azad Kashmir and the people denied basic
      rights. All this is glossed over in the name of security. Every decent
      person, Pakistani or otherwise, feels disturbed by consistent violations of
      human rights in Kashmir. Similarly, they are equally concerned at the
      oppression in Afghanistan. If human rights are central to our foreign
      policy, then the government of Pakistan ought, at least, to cold-shoulder
      its Taliban friends.

      The hypocrisy of our foreign policy is apparent to everyone, except our
      military leaders and their civilian sychophants. The Indian security forces
      should and must, at all costs, be brought to justice for rape and
      extra-judicial killings in Kashmir. At the same time, so should those in
      Pakistan who killed and raped their own citizens in East Pakistan. We
      cannot exonerate either.

      Solving the Kashmir problem is not easy. It is complex and best left to
      political leaders. No interim government, without a public mandate, can
      hope to do much about it. It may well complicate matters. Recent bombings
      at Lahore should be some warning.

      Pakistan's insistence on plebiscite is not supported by many Kashmiri
      groups. They want independence, rather than a choice between the devil and
      the deep sea. No one will buy plebiscite, perhaps not even the people of
      Azad Kashmir.

      If independence is the next best choice, then Pakistan's leadership has to
      be prepared to let go of Azad Kashmir and perhaps the Northern Areas too.
      Many hope that an independent Kashmir will remain under our control.
      Perhaps so, but only if we are able to offer them prosperity and
      well-being, which we seem to lose fast enough in our dreams of grand
      alliances and strategic depths. More optimistic analysts insists that
      Pakistan is on the verge of getting the Valley. Any such move in the
      presence of militants and Indian security forces will only end in bloodshed
      and a constant proxy war.

      The only route to solving the Kashmir issue is through a series of
      negotiations - but they cannot start until violence decreases in Kashmir.
      The recent cease-fire was a positive development but short-lived. Whether
      it is a sustainable cease-fire or a series of talks, they can only be
      negotiated by a civilian elected government. The military rulers, as we
      have witnessed, have lost credibility both at home and abroad. The message
      from the UN Summit was clear: "get off your high horse and be relevant."
      Let us hope it has sunk somewhere.



      Jinnah: Making a myth

      by Mubarak Ali

      Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had all peculiarities and characteristics
      in his personality to make a myth of himself. He was reticent, reserved,
      kept his personal matter in secrecy, behaved coolly and arrogantly and not
      friendly with anybody. Perhaps he wanted to create a halo of awe and fear
      around him. Sri Prakash, the first Indian High Commissioner, in his book '
      Pakistan: Birth and early years' narrates about a reception which was given
      by the Governor General of Pakistan, just after the independence to the
      diplomats .It was also attended by the party leaders and bureaucrats.
      According to his version, Mr.Jinnah was sitting at a distance alone on a
      sofa and called one by one to those whom he wanted to talk. He exchanged
      notes with each one of them just for 5 minutes. To the High Commissioner,
      he appeared a lonely man, averse to people. His serious and somber
      expression made all those who interacted him uneasy in his company.

      This attitude gave the impression that he was the end all and all in every
      matter. The Muslim League and its leaders were just rubber stamps. His
      image of being a sole spokesman of his party and people created a number of
      myths. For example, one myth about his serious illness which is narrated by
      Larry Collins and Dominique Lappierre in their book" Freedom at Midnight"
      fascinates everybody and they are compelled to take it seriously. The
      version of their story is:
      "if Louis Mountbatten, Jawahrlal Nehru or Mahatma Gandhi had been aware in
      April 1947 of one extraordinary secret, the division threatening India
      might have been avoided. The secret was sealed onto the gray surface piece
      of a film, a film that could have upset the Indian political equation and
      would almost certainly have changed the course of Asian history. Yet, so
      precious was the secret that that film harbored that even the British
      C.I.D., one of the most effective investigative agencies in the world, was
      ignorant of its existence."

      These were the X rays of Jinnah diagnosed as a T.B. patient. The authors,
      after creating a suspense, further write that: "The damage was so extensive
      that the man whose lungs were on the film had barely two or three years to
      live. Sealed in an unmarked envelope, those X rays were locked in the
      office safe of Dr.J.A.L.Patel, a Bombay physician."
      On the basis of the story, Jinnah emerged as the one on whom depended the
      whole movement of Pakistan. The story further becomes interesting when a
      Hindu doctor kept the secret at the cost of Indian unity. His political
      inclinations were more important than his professional integrity.

      In 1997, on the occasion of the 5oth celebration of India-Pakistan
      independence, Patrick French published a book"Liberty or Death'. He, after
      his own investigation, refutes the whole story narrated by Collins and
      lappierre .According to him: "The idea that Jinnah's poor state of health
      was a closely guarded secret is absurd: it was referred to in the press at
      that time, and it is obvious from photographs taken in the mid 1940s that
      Jinnah was unwell. Moreover, the reduction of the Muslim league's wide
      popular backing to the whim of one man's 'rigid and inflexible' attitude is
      indicative of the way that Pakistan history has been traduced. A second
      problem with Collins and Lappierre's story is that it is not correct.
      Jinnah did not go to Bombay in May or June 1946, since he was busy in
      negotiating with Cripps in Simla and New Delhi. Nor did he have a doctor by
      the name J.A.I.Patel…Although it is possible that Jinnah had tuberculosis
      in 1946, there is no evidence among his archive papers to support the theory."

      However, Jinnah himself on many occasions expressed that he was the sole
      creator of Pakistan. In one of his famous sayings he said that he and his
      typewriter made Pakistan. The statement disregarded the efforts of his
      colleagues and the leader of Muslim League in matter of politics. It is
      also a denial of people's participation in the struggle for the separate
      homeland. There are evidence that he did not like the leaders of Muslim
      League.To him all of them were mediocre and incapable to lead the nation.
      Perhaps, that was the reason that Jinnah, knowing his fatal illness,
      accepted 'the moth eaten and truncated Pakistan'. The later history of
      Pakistan confirms Jinnah's assessment about the Muslim League's leaders who
      miserably failed to solve the problems of a nascent nation. The failure of
      these leaders has transformed Jinnah's image as a superman. He overshadowed
      every body. The nation also paid respect to its Great Leader in naming
      universities, colleges, airports, roads, hospitals, and institutions of
      different kinds with the result that a citizen of Pakistan feels his
      presence every where in the country wherever he goes. Moreover, his image
      as a Great Quaid is presented in the textbooks to mould the mind of the
      young generation encouraging him to follow in his footsteps. Scholars are
      writing continuously on different aspect of his life. Recently, a film is
      screened to counter the film Gandhi in which Attenborough distorts the
      image of Jinnah These efforts made him holy and sacred. Any criticism to
      his person is regarded a treason. He has become a paragon of virtues,
      beyond all weaknesses of a humanbeing.

      There is such a reverence and high regard for him that mere association
      with him catapults a person from a humble position to the rank of freedom
      fighter. There are a number of people who claim to have shaken hands with
      him (though he avoided to shake hands with people), seen him, talked to
      him, or merely attended his public meeting. The rulers of Pakistan,
      realizing the effects of his association, create myths of their links with
      him. Z.A.Bhutto claimed that as a student he wrote him a letter (it is not
      known whether he replied to that letter or not), Zia's sycophant
      bureaucrats discovered a diary of Jinnah (that was the time when Hitler's
      diaries were discovered and later on proved false) which disappeared along
      with him. Nawaz Sharif, assuming to follow his footsteps, called himself as
      'Quaid-I-sani (The second leader). One such similar example is found in the
      history of France when Napoleon iii made an attempt to revive the image of
      Napoleon I in order to legitimize his authority. Marx jokingly comments in
      ' The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,' that "Hegel remarks
      somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world
      history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as
      tragedy, the second as farce." Nawaz Sharif's self- given title proves it.

      Jinnah has become such a symbol of wisdom in the Pakistani society that
      people visualize Pakistan with his reference. His vision, his agenda, his
      dream and his ideals, all.remained unaccomplished because he died soon
      after the independence. It is commonly believed that had he lived some more
      years, history of Pakistan would have been different. There are few nations
      who rely so heavily on one individual.

      No doubt, Jinnah was a great leader of his people. He was a man of
      integrity and honesty, but to make him an idol and not allow anybody to
      emerge out of his shadow is pathetic. Every generation has its own dreams
      and vision which it wants to accomplish without interference. Not imitation
      but freedom is required to build a new world. Therefore, attempt should not
      be made to repeat but to make a new history. People should be liberated
      >from the shadow and allow them to flourish in a free atmosphere. Great
      leaders should be respected but not worshiped.



      Volume 17 - Issue 20, Sep. 30 - Oct. 13, 2000

      Hindutva and history

      Why do Hindutva ideologues keep flogging a dead horse?


      Frontline invited Romila Thapar, the eminent historian of ancient India, to
      provide a perspective on the Cover feature.

      "THE Aryans" became a historical category in the late nineteenth century.
      There was much confusion between "Aryan" as race and as language, a
      confusion that has not entirely cleared in popular perception. In its
      application to Indian history, it was argu ed that the aryas referred to in
      the Rigveda were the Aryans who had invaded and conquered northern India,
      founded Indian civilisation, and spread their Indo-Aryan language. The
      theory had an immediate impact, particularly on those with a politica l
      agenda and on historians.

      Potsherd with incised triple-trident sign found in early levels at
      Harappa and dating sometime between 3500 and 2800 BCE.

      Jyotiba Phule maintained that the Aryan invasion explained the arrival of
      alien brahmans and their dominance and oppression of the lower castes. The
      invasion was necessary to this view of history. For those concerned with a
      Hindutva ideology, the invasio n had to be denied. The definition of a
      Hindu as given by Savarkar was that India had to be his pitribhumi
      (ancestral land) and his punyabhumi (the land of his religion). A Hindu
      therefore could not be descended from alien invaders. Since H indus sought
      a lineal descent from the Aryans, and a cultural heritage, the Aryans had
      to be indigenous. This definition of the Hindu excluded Muslims and
      Christians from being indigenous since their religion did not originate in

      Pottery from a grave at Harappa.

      Historians initially accepted the invasion theory and some even argued
      that the decline of the Indus cities was due to the invasion of the Aryans,
      although the archaeological evidence for this was being discounted. But the
      invasion theory came to be disc arded in favour of alternative theories of
      how the language, Indo-Aryan, entered the sub-continent. In 1968, I had
      argued at a session of the Indian History Congress that invasion was
      untenable and that the language - Indo-Aryan - had come with a series of
      migrations and therefore involving multiple avenues of the acculturation of
      peoples. The historically relevant question was not the identity of the
      Aryans (identities are never permanent) but why and how languages and
      cultures change in a given area.

      Why then do Hindutva ideologues - Indian and non-Indian - keep flogging a
      dead horse and refuse to consider the more recent alternative theories? For
      them the only alternative is that if the Aryans were not invaders, they
      must have been indigenous. That there is a range of possibilities between
      the two extremes of invaders or indigenes does not interest them. The
      insistence on the indigenous origin of the Aryans allows them to maintain
      that the present-day Hindus are the lineal descendants of the Aryans and
      the inheritors of the land since the beginning of history. This then
      requires that the presence of the Aryans be taken back into earliest
      history. Hence the attempt to prove, against the prevailing evidence from
      linguistics and archaeology, that the authors of the Rigveda were the
      people of the Indus cities or were possibly even prior to that.

      Small terracotta tablet from Harappa depicting part of a mythological
      scene. Combat between human and animal or animal and animal is often

      The equation is based on identifying words from the Rigveda with objects
      from the Indus cities. That the village-based, pastoral society of the
      Rigveda could not be identical with the complex urban society of the Indus
      cities is not conceded. Yet there a re no descriptions of the city in the
      Rigveda or even the later Vedic corpus, that could be applied to the Indus
      cities: no references to structures built on platforms, or the grid pattern
      of streets and the careful construction of drainage systems, to g ranaries,
      warehouses and areas of intensive craft production, to seals and their
      function, and to the names of the places where goods were sent. If the two
      societies were identical, the two systems would at least have to be

      S.R. CLARK & L.J. MILLER
      Terracotta cart, wheel, bovine, and human figurines. The assemblage is
      reconstructed from pieces found in different archaeological contexts at

      In order to prove that the Indus civilisation was Aryan, the language has
      to be deciphered as a form of Sanskrit and there has to be evidence of an
      Aryan presence, which currently is being associated with the horse and the
      chariot. Attempts to decipher t he language have so far not succeeded and
      those reading it as Sanskrit have been equally unsuccessful. But there are
      linguistic rules that have to be observed in any decipherment. These make
      it necessary for a claim to stand the test of linguistic analys es. The
      readings also have to show some contextual consistency. These have been
      demonstrated as lacking in the decipherment claimed by Rajaram and Jha.

      To insist that a particular seal represents the horse as Rajaram does, was
      an attempt to foreclose the argument and maintain that the horse was
      important to the Indus civilisation, therefore it was an Aryan
      civilisation. Quite apart from the changes made in the computer enhanced
      image of the seal to give the impression of a horse, which have been
      discussed in the article by Witzel and Farmer, the animal in the photograph
      of the seal is clearly not a horse. Furthermore, if the horse had been as
      central t o the Indus civilisation as it was to the Vedic corpus, there
      would have been many seals depicting horses. But the largest number of
      seals are those which depict the bull unicorn.

      The ancient Harappans had bronze weapons like these from Harappa. Whether
      they had warfare is unknown.

      Indian history from the perspective of the Hindutva ideology reintroduces
      ideas that have long been discarded and are of little relevance to an
      understanding of the past. The way in which information is put together,
      and generalisations drawn from this, do not stand the test of analyses as
      used in the contemporary study of history. The rewriting of history
      according to these ideas is not to illumine the past but to allow an easier
      legitimation from the past for the political requirements of the present.
      The Hindutva obsession with identity is not a problem related to the early
      history of India but arises out of an attempt to manipulate identities in
      contemporary politics. Yet ironically, this can only be done if the
      existing interpretations of history are revised and forced into the
      Hindutva ideological mould. To go by present indications, this would imply
      a history based on dogma with formulaic answers, mono-causal explanations,
      and no intellectual explorations. Dogmatic assertions with no space for
      alternative ideas often arise from a sense of inferiority and the fear of
      debate. Hence the determination to prevent the publication of volumes on
      history which do not conform to Hindutva ideology.

      Shell bangles from the left arm of a woman buried at Harappa.

      History as projected by Hindutva ideologues, which is being introduced to
      children through textbooks and is being thrust upon research institutes,
      precludes an open discussion of evidence and interpretation. Nor does it
      bear any trace of the new methods of historical analyses now being used in
      centres of historical research. Such history is dismissed by the Hindutva
      ideologues as Western, imperialist, Marxist, or whatever, but they are
      themselves unaware of what these labels mean or the nature of these
      readings. There is no recognition of the technical training required of
      historians and archaeologists or of the foundations of social science
      essential to historical explanation. Engineers, computer experts,
      journalists-turned-politicians, foreign journa lists posing as scholars of
      Indology, and what have you, assume infallibility, and pronounce on
      archaeology and history. And the media accord them the status.

      The article by Witzel and Farmer is a serious critique of the claims that
      have been made by Rajaram and Jha about the Aryan identity of the Indus
      civilisation and the decipherment of the Harappan script. The critique was
      first put out on the Internet but those who have access to the Internet in
      India are still a limited few. It is important for this article to be
      published, for it is a salutary lesson for the media to be more cautious in
      unfamiliar areas and not rush to publicise anything that sounds se
      nsational. It is also necessary that the debate be made accessible to the
      reading public so that people are not repeatedly taken for a ride. It shows
      up the defective library resources in India that would need to be radically
      improved if research in earl y Indian history is to be made more effective.
      But above all, the article demonstrates the lengths to which historical
      sources can be manipulated by those supporting the claims of Hindutva

      Romila Thapar, 2000

      Frontline thanks Richard H. Meadow, Director, Zooarchaeology Laboratory,
      Peabody Museum, Harvard University, USA and Project Director, Harappa
      Archaeological R esearch Project (HARP), for giving permission to
      reproduce, in this article, the colour images of Harappan material with
      specified captions. HARP owns the copyright to all the images except one.

      Copyrights © 2000, Frontline & Tribeca Internet Initiatives Inc.



      9 October 2000

      Paper Jehadis and the Lie of the Land
      A reply to the charges levelled by Prem Shankar Jha in his last week's column

      Pankaj Mishra

      Prem Shankar Jha's writings on Kashmir illustrate the truth of an amusing
      remark British journalist Christopher Hitchens once made to me: he became a
      journalist, he said, because he could no longer trust the press. Now Jha
      (Self-inflicted Wounds, October 2) has joined Swapan Dasgupta of India
      Today in accusing me of being unpatriotic. The immediate provocation is a
      three-part article on Kashmir I recently published in The Hindu and The New
      York Review of Books. It's always a tricky business trying to clarify
      things said elsewhere, in a different context; and I would request
      interested readers to look up the articles in The Hindu and on nybooks.com.
      In the meantime, I'll try to nail some of Jha's falsehoods.

      I was in Kashmir when 35 Sikhs were massacred, hours before Bill Clinton
      began his state visit to India. Soon after the news of the massacre, New
      Delhi blamed the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Toiba. There was no
      evidence for this accusation at this stage-there still isn't, after a
      failed attempt to manufacture it at Panchalthan where five local Muslims
      were murdered, defaced and presented to the press as hard-core militants of
      the Lashkar.

      Once you are in Kashmir, that scepticism about the government's ability to
      speak the truth returns, and multiplies fast. Not a single Kashmiri I spoke
      to believed the government's story; and as the days passed it began to seem
      less and less the final word on the subject it was taken to be by the
      Indian press-if not any other press.

      I still don't think anyone is in a position to identify with certainty the
      killers of the Sikhs. The scope for private investigation remains limited;
      there are areas in Kashmir journalists just can't go to. People have their
      own suspicions; there are theories; there are the strange facts: for
      instance, that a patrol party of Rashtriya Rifles, which was 1.5 km from
      Chitsinghpura at the time of the massacre, heard the gunshots but did not
      bother to go and investigate. Suspicions and theories and some strange
      facts are not perhaps the best way to get to the truth but when the men in
      power declare, without offering any evidence, that they have the complete
      truth in their possession, and that there is no need for an inquiry; when
      those men go on to murder innocents in their attempt to make lies seem like
      truth, then it becomes all the more important for journalists to take some
      untrodden paths.

      What doesn't help in these uncertain conditions are misrepresentations and
      accusations of bad faith from other journalists. Jha writes that Death in
      Kashmir "concludes with the assertion" "that not only were many of the
      pilgrims killed at Pahalgam victims of crossfire by the crpf (true) but
      that all eight attacks on that day, which killed 100 Hindus, were probably
      the handiwork of Indian security forces".

      Careful readers of this sentence will notice how Jha begins his argument
      quoting me with some very unambiguous language-Pankaj Mishra concludes with
      the assertion. He then develops cold feet and quickly tries to hedge
      himself in with the adverb "probably": "were probably the handiwork of
      Indian security forces".

      Jha's grudging little bracket with the word 'true' refers to the only
      truthful thing in this sentence-the killing of pilgrims at Pahalgam by the
      crpf-and that comes from my article. Let's now look at the facts Jha
      manages to get wrong in just one sentence: 1. Death in Kashmir does not
      conclude where Jha thinks it does; it goes on for several thousand words.
      2. The eight attacks did not take place on the same day. 3. Less than 100
      Hindus were killed in early August-the inflated figure Jha quotes includes
      about 20 Muslims murdered in Pahalgam and Doda.

      Let's now look at some of my cautiously-phrased 'findings' which Jha found
      so objectionable.

      "It is still not clear-and probably won't be for some time-what actually

      "These killings thus take their place, along with the murder of the Sikhs,
      with some very relevant but ultimately obscure and unexplained incidents in
      Kashmir's recent history."

      "The turnover of atrocities on both sides in Kashmir is so high, and the
      situation in general so murky, that it is hard to get to the truth, to
      confirm, for instance, India's claim, in both late March and early August,
      that Muslim terrorists are always responsible for them."

      It doesn't require much close reading to know that no one is being blamed
      here. I am simply making a general point about the uncertainty surrounding
      events in Kashmir and the difficulty of going along with the government's
      version when it is not supported by sufficient evidence, or a will to

      Jha obviously thinks he can tell his readers whatever he likes. Here is
      more of his hit-or-miss polemic: "Cunningly, Mishra saves them (his
      conclusions) till after he has first described in equally harrowing detail
      how the security forces and the Kashmir police picked up five innocent
      young men in Anantnag district, killed and burned them and claimed that
      they were the foreign militants who'd committed the killing."

      As I've said, I reached no conclusions but the question still has to be
      asked of Jha: has he forgotten that conclusions usually come after the
      events they refer to have been described? What on earth could be so cunning
      about a writer following the simple rules of prose narrative?

      I had written in my article about Wagay, a Muslim resident of
      Chitsinghpura, who was randomly picked up after the murder of the Sikhs and
      tortured into signing declarations of his links with the Lashkar and
      Hizbul. No less a figure than the home secretary appeared on TV, while
      Clinton was still in India, to announce his arrest. He had apparently
      escorted the 'Lashkar militants' to the massacre site; and he also knew all
      about the hideout in Panchalthan where the army and the sog killed the five
      'dreaded' Lashkar terrorists responsible for massacring the Sikhs.

      All rubbish, as it turns out. Wagay was with four other men, including a
      Sikh, when the massacre happened. The 'Lashkar terrorists' killed in
      Panchalthan were local civilians, kidnapped, murdered, defaced and then
      burnt so that no one would know who they were. I had written how Wagay's
      family realises that he is a crucial figure in the Chitsinghpura cover-up,
      a living negation of all the stories we have been fed about Chitsinghpura,
      and how they fear for his life once he is out of prison.

      At some point in my reading of Jha's piece, I began to realise that he
      seems to be doing nothing more intellectually sophisticated than pressing
      the hot button of patriotism in his readers in the hope they will be so
      incited against me that they will stop noticing how far below the
      journalistic standards of truth and accuracy Jha has slipped. An example of
      this can be seen in the scandalised tones of the sentence, "Mishra also
      exonerates the Lashkar-e-Toiba". The subliminal message to his readers is:
      Mishra must surely be unpatriotic, perhaps even an isi agent, if he can
      exonerate the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which we all of course know is a bunch of
      bloodthirsty murderers.

      Much as I would like to blame the Lashkar, an undoubtedly nasty lot, in the
      10 separate incidents of violence I write about, I can't do so yet. I am
      still waiting for evidence more convincing than the five murdered civilians
      produced by the authorities in March.

      Both Jha and Dasgupta deride me for mentioning that the Lashkar has issued
      strong denials of their involvement in the March and August killings. As
      both put it in their not dissimilar ways, we can expect nothing from these
      Pakistani brutes but brutality-in which case, one might ask why should
      these brutes, who are so unconcerned about their notoriety and rush to
      claim their attacks on the Indian army, should even bother denying their
      involvement in the killings of civilians? And why would the US State
      Department, whose opinion Jha so clearly values, consistently refuse to
      join the Indian government in blaming the Lashkar?

      I realise I am only playing into Jha's hands here. As he sees it, neither
      the denials from Lashkar nor lack of evidence should interfere with the
      patriotic duty of Indian journalists to join their government in blaming
      all inhuman acts in Kashmir on the vicious monsters in Pakistan. But if the
      Lashkar's involvement is so obvious to Jha, he would perhaps like to mull
      over the single-most mystifying thing about the March and August massacres:
      that the government should not only refuse to hold an inquiry, even when it
      is demanded by political parties in Parliament, but also produce no
      evidence of the Lashkar's involvement except the defaced corpses of five
      innocent men, an innocent man in jail and, in August, a couple of assault
      rifles with Lashkar stickers on them.

      What troubles me is that Jha doesn't realise how shaky and narrow is the
      ground he presently stands on. Consider, for instance, his 'clinching'
      argument: "If the 'army' had killed the Sikhs in March and 19 Bihari
      labourers in August with the intention of pinning blame on Pakistan, would
      it have gone to the village and the camp in uniform?"

      Though I'm eager to remove all doubts of the army's involvement in these
      killings, I don't think Jha's pathetic argument is what I'd use. He has a
      very exaggerated idea of the skill and caution all-powerful men need to
      kill in the moral void of Kashmir; it merely underlines his naivete about
      the subject. He does acknowledge, in an abrupt moment of truth, that
      "theoretically, anything is possible in the dark, brutal world the
      Kashmiris now inhabit". The word 'theoretically' is another hedge against
      the possibility of knowledge. Jha really should pursue this line of thought
      and perhaps spend more time in Kashmir.

      But Jha is not much interested in what goes on in Kashmir, even less in
      what Kashmiris think. He is obsessed with how it all looks in the US.
      Consider the way he starts off his piece, with the assertion that writing
      for The New York Review of Books and The New York Times is a matter of
      'pride'. Here, Jha betrays his own vulnerability to the glamour of American
      periodicals. It was The Hindu which originally commissioned and published
      the three-part article that later appeared in an slightly altered form in
      The New York Review of Books-a significant fact that Jha doesn't even think
      worth mentioning.

      His exaggerated reverence for US periodicals is crucial as it is the root
      of all his problems with my articles. It explains his absurd assertion that
      my articles have 'done India great harm'. One wonders: in what way? I think
      the reason lies in the idea of India Jha has bought into. This realpolitik
      simulation of India leaves out all that should be of value to him: India's
      people, their immense struggles, dreams and hurt. It is no more than a
      foolish and vain fantasy: the fantasy of being a world power, which is so
      insubstantial that in order to maintain it in the actual conditions of life
      in India, people like Jha are forced to turn away from their own world.
      Blind to the violence and anarchy around them, they go gaping at the remote
      indifferent mirrors of the US press and are then outraged to find images of
      India that don't match their little fantasy, that remind them too much of
      the dark realities they are trying to suppress.
      Much as I'd like to blame the Lashkar, a nasty lot no doubt, I can't do so
      on the basis of slain, disfigured innocents.

      His realpolitik simulation of India leaves out all that should be of value
      to Jha: the people, their struggles, dreams, hurt.

      © Copyright Outlook 2000




      Light Beyond the veil
      A withered economy, limited mobility, low education-and chauvinism with gun
      in hand. In Kashmir's prune-dry landscape, a few gutsy women break the

      By Murali Krishnan in Srinagar

      They are voices drowned in the din of bombs and bullets. Caught between the
      culture of the gun and an oppressive jehadi code, women in the Kashmir
      Valley have been suffering silently. While any analysis of the conflict in
      the Valley has largely concentrated on the political and military aspects,
      it completely excludes the social dimensions. "Women's experiences and
      perceptions, for example, have been ignored-especially when they have been
      victims in the cycle of violence and abuse," says Ruksana Khan, a lecturer
      in Kashmir University.

      In the face of adversity, especially the so-called fatwas of pro-Pakistan
      militant groups banning women from wearing jeans, watching music channels,
      wearing their hair short and even running beauty parlours, fear runs high.
      In early September, unidentified gunmen shot at two employees working at
      the Shahnaz Beauty Parlour, Srinagar. Prior to this, on May 22, 14-year-old
      Posha was shot in her legs outside her house in Bal Garden as she was
      cycling clad in jeans. "She had come for a holiday from Delhi and now I
      doubt if she will come again," says a family member. There have been other
      such incidents. In February last year, Nowsheen Thanzoor, 14, and Mehvish
      Nazir, 16, were targeted for wearing trousers. "They had gone shopping and
      were shot at by motorcycle-borne militants," says a police official.

      There has been no public condemnation of these incidents because of the
      fear of retribution. And yet some have shown true grit to beaver away. Says
      Maleeha, a gutsy 35-year-old who runs a beauty parlour in a houseboat, "I
      face no problems. This is my third year and business is flourishing." On an
      average, 60 women visit her parlour daily and she has four women on her
      rolls. "There is nothing in Islam which bars women from running parlours,"
      adds Maleeha. Sabreena, another parlour in fashionable Rajbagh, is also
      doing well, attracting the college crowd.

      But this is only one side of the story. Discrimination against women exists
      in education, employment, inheritance rights and even at home. A mix of
      conservatism, male chauvinism and fear of the jehadi groups is the reason.
      But despite the odds, some have carved their own space in the public arena.
      A space earned through persistence and perseverance in trying
      circumstances. And which they are not willing to relinquish.

      Tanveer Jehan, managing director of the government-run J&K Tourism
      Development Corporation, is one example. Having joined the state government
      in 1977, she says it's been a bitter struggle to reach where she has. "When
      I joined, there were only three women. We faced many prejudices and had to
      constantly prove our worth," she says. Her acceptance in a
      popularly-perceived male domain is now complete. "Now, I am on par with
      them." Tanveer's story is commendable considering much of her career
      overlapped with the emergence of terrorism. As district collector of
      Srinagar in 1997, a high point in her career, she faced many anxious
      moments. "Basically, I had to handle law and order and it was a testing
      period. It was tough but I acquitted myself creditably," she maintains.

      It's also been a tough grind for 40-year-old Shaizada Praveen, one of the
      three deputy superintendents of police in Srinagar. After 17 years in the
      police force, weathering male dominance and violence, she confidently
      proclaims that she has made her mark. "Girls now call me up at home asking
      me if they can take me out for lunch. I am their role model," she exclaims.
      She denies having received any threats from militants. "Even if I do, I
      won't be cowed down."

      While Jehan and Shaizada had the privilege of education and family support
      to help them realise their ambition, this isn't true for Aleema from
      Anantnag. Coming from an agricultural family, her two brothers were killed
      in militant-related violence some years back. "My father did not have the
      money to send me to college and moreover I had to help out at home," she
      says. In the last four years, she has managed to learn tailoring and make
      handicrafts which are sold in downtown Srinagar. "Some day, I would like to
      run my own shop but all that depends on my fate," she says.

      That jobs, particularly in the government, are scarce in the Valley is well
      known. Most girls who aspire for a career in medicine or engineering find
      no opportunities exist. "There is a freeze on government jobs and that's
      why more and more girls are taking to computers and fashion technology,"
      says.K. Verma, a state official.

      In fact, there are no official figures available on the number of
      government jobs women hold. Neither are there statistics on those employed
      in the unorganised sector or even the level of unemployment among women in
      Kashmir. "The last census was in 1981. We are in the process of collecting
      data," says Girija Dar, chairperson of the newly set up Women's Commission.
      The picture of rural womenfolk is even worse. Caught in the vortex of both
      militant-and security-related violence, there seems to be no succour for

      And a move out of the village is no guarantee of a better life either. It
      is an ordeal for women who want a career. Ruhi Hashmi, a successful
      boutique owner, has laboured hard to build up her business. "Breaking the
      ceiling in a male-dominated society is difficult but I persevered. Girls
      from the Valley get very little exposure. Those who have the wherewithal
      send their wards outside," she maintains. But Ruhi has been lucky. Her
      salwar-kameez suits and wedding apparel are the talk of the town and she
      gets bulk orders from Sopore and Baramulla during the marriage season.

      Even in sunrise sectors like computers, women seem to be lagging behind.
      Says Andleeb Bashir, 23, a counsellor for the computer training firm
      Aptech, "Women here are lagging behind when compared to their counterparts
      in other parts of the country. So though talent is not in short supply,
      most remain unemployed because the job market has remained stagnant."

      The only three sectors to have witnessed some growth are paging services,
      fashion and computer training institutes. But the expansion has not been
      enough to provide sufficient jobs. However, there are other avenues of
      employment, even if limited.

      Shaheen and Shazia are among the six customer service agents working for
      Jet Airways in the city. Though they have a good job they wouldn't mind
      seeking greener pastures outside the Valley. Says Shazia: "Some attitudes
      will not change here. If we get the right break, we might think of taking
      it up."

      Similarly, Seema Qadri, 22, among a few women working in a hotel in
      Srinagar, also believes avenues for individual enhancement are limited. "I
      wanted to be different from the rest and that is why I took up a career in
      hoteliering," she says. Working as a receptionist, she doubles up on the
      front desk when the occasion demands.

      Confronting and coping with insurgency, many women have not realised their
      potential. "It is an unreal situation where individualism is not given free
      play," says Zuhara, a college lecturer. But in an environment that offers
      little hope, these intrepid women of the Valley have shown that
      individualism works in different ways.

      (Some names have been changed to protect their identity)

      © Copyright Outlook 2000
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