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SACW #2 | 6 May 01

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | Dispatch #2 6 May 2001 ... #1. Sri Lanka: Attacks shatter Mawanella Muslims #2. Sri Lanka: Basil wins Kwangju Human Rights Award
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2001
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | Dispatch #2

      6 May 2001


      ----------------------------------

      #1. Sri Lanka: Attacks shatter Mawanella Muslims
      #2. Sri Lanka: Basil wins Kwangju Human Rights Award
      #3. Statements from Kashmir Civil Society Consultation
      #4. Call from Entries Film South Asia 2001
      #5. A 'nazm' (poem) on Afghanistan (In Urdu)
      #6. India: Indo-Pak Children's Meet Fund Appeal
      #7. Book Announcement: The 'Ulama of Farangi Mahall & Islamic Culture in
      South Asia
      #8. U.S. commission says Indian government should curb religious intolerance
      #9. India: Sign On Statement: on UGC chairmans' statement on Social
      Sciences & introduction of Astrology courses in Indian Universities
      #10. India: Update on BJP activists' intimidation of a Bookseller

      -----------------------------------

      #1.

      [TamilNet, May 03, 2001 15:44 GMT]

      Attacks shatter Mawanella Muslims

      Two mosques, sixty houses, forty shops and two Muslim owned fuel stations
      were burnt down Wednesday by mobs in the town of Mawanella, said Mr. Ali
      Sahir Moulana, a Muslim opposition Parliamentarian Thursday. He said
      that Sinhala mobs had carried out the attacks with the aim of destroying
      the basis of the Muslim people's economy in Mawanella. The town is on the
      main highway between Kandy and Colombo in the Kegalle district and is
      predominantly Muslim. Mr.Moulana said that the Sri Lankan government
      should take full responsibility for the attack on the Muslims in
      Mawanella and its environs.

      A Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) source in Colombo however, told
      TamilNet Thursday 18 vehicles, 20 houses, 140 shops, 2 garment factories
      and a rubber factory mostly owned by Muslims were set on fire by the
      attacking Sinhalese. He charged that the Police in Mawanella had stood
      by even during the curfew that was clamped on the area, while Sinhala
      mobs went on rampage. Two Muslims were killed Wednesday by the Sinhala
      mobs, according to him. Hundreds of Muslims hit by the violence sought
      refuge in a local school for studying Arab and Islam.

      The Sri Lankan government, meanwhile, claimed that the situation is under
      control and that Police personnel from outside Mawanella have been
      deployed there now. It said that a conference to bring about peace
      between the Muslims and Sinhalese has been organised by the Police
      Thursday. Police sources in Colombo said a few shops belonging to
      Sinhalese were also damaged. They said that it is too early to have a
      correct assessment of the destruction caused by the mobs.

      The SLMC sources said that sections of the media and the government are
      deliberately trying to play down the fact that Sinhala mobs had attacked
      the Muslims, destroying their property, businesses, places of worship and
      their homes. "Instead they are attempting to make the Muslims the villain
      of the piece", he charged.

      According to a journalist in Ruwanwella, a minor town near Mawanella, on
      Tuesday Muslims in the town had shut down their shops and flown black
      flags in protest against an attack on two Muslim businessmen the day
      before. The businessmen were assaulted allegedly by the bodyguards of
      ruling party politician when they had refused to pay extortion money. He
      said that Sinhala mobs armed with machetes and clubs had attacked Muslims
      later that day, pillaging shops and setting them on fire. He said that
      the Mawanella Jumma Mosque was torched as soon as the Sinhala mobs began
      the attack on Muslims in the town.

      The SLMC source in Colombo, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the
      Muslims in Mawanella had protested peacefully because they had felt that
      the Sinhala chauvinist forces that are systematically working to
      undermine their (Muslim) traditional presence in the town had to be
      opposed at this juncture. He cited the activities of the Sihala Urumaya
      (formerly Sinhala Veera Vidhaahana) and its most powerful backer, the
      Sinhala Traders Association to underscore that the attack in Mawanella is
      part of a cover and systematic racist campaign against the Muslims in
      the southern parts of Sri Lanka.

      He pointed out that none of the culprits who attacked Muslims in February
      1999 and later have been brought to book so far.

      Related stories: 17.02.1999: TamilNet: Sinhala supremacists pursue
      economic dominance [TN/2001050301] © TamilNet 2001

      _____


      #2.


      Sunday Observer (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
      29 April 2001

      Basil wins Kwangju Human Rights Award

      Mr. Basil Fernando, the Executive Director of Asian Human Rights Commission
      (AHRC) has been nominated for the second Kwangju Human Rights Award, this
      year.
      "The May 18 Memorial Foundation", awards a person or an organization that
      reflects the `spirit' of the Kwangju uprising. Mr. Basil Fernando has been
      nominated for his commitment to the human rights issues.
      Last year East Timor Independence Leader Xanana Gusmao, Chairman of the
      National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in East Timor was the winner
      of the first Kwangju Human Rights Award.
      The AHRC believes this well deserved award for Mr. Basil Fernando a sign of
      recognition of his long-standing and intensive work and deep commitment for
      human rights in the Asian region.
      The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) found in 1986 by a prominent group
      of jurists and human rights activists in Asia is an independent,
      non-governmental body, which seeks to promote greater awareness and
      realisation of human rights in the Asian region, and to mobilise Asian and
      international public opinion to obtain relief and redress for the victims of
      human rights violations.
      The AHRC promotes civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and
      cultural rights. Its sister organization, Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
      is an organization with General Consultative Status with the Economic and
      Social Commission of the United Nations. AHRC and ALRC has its offices in
      Hong Kong. The may 18 Foundation while recognising the contribution of Mr.
      Fernando to promote amd protect Human Rights in the Asian Region said that
      the Foundation did not deviate from the original purpose.
      "In granting the award, the original purpose of the prize must always be kept
      in mind: to recognize a person or organization that best promotes and
      protects human rights in the Asian region, a part of the world that shares
      with us in Korea a similar historical experience.
      "It is for this reason that Basil Fernando has been chosen this year as he is
      one of the most prominent and passionate human rights activists in the
      region. He has tirelessly sought to promote the human rights of Asia's
      people, especially those who have been the most neglected and oppressed", a
      statement issued by the Foundation said giving reasons for this year nominee
      for the award.
      The statement further said that Mr. Fernando also has a strong belief that
      the Kwangju uprising on May 18, 1980, was a positive symbol of the commitment
      and courage of the human rights movement in Asia and of what it can achieve.
      "Reflecting the desire to spread the spirit of Kwangju on May 18, 1980,
      throughout the world, we cannot but feel a deep sense of thanks and
      friendship for his endeavour to recognize Kwangju as "the city of human
      rights and peace" to all of Asia's people beyond the Korean Peninsula through
      organizing the Asian Conference to Declare the Asian Human Rights Charter
      that was held in Kwangju from May 13 to 20, 1998, at which more than 30 Asian
      human rights leaders attended.
      "As a prominent human rights activist, he has criticized the bureaucratic
      system of existing international human rights organizations, including the
      U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). He has sought to overcome the
      problems associated with these large bureaucratic organizations by trying to
      establish a human rights organization which is rooted in the people and that
      places the people themselves at the centre of the human rights movement.
      "We believe that his selection as the recipient of the second Kwangju Human
      Rights Award will give courage and hope to all of those who are actively
      struggling for human rights, peace and democracy in Asia", the statement
      added.
      Speaking about being nominated for the award Mr Fernando said: " "I feel both
      honoured and humbled by this decision. I accept this award on behalf of
      myself, my colleagues and associates of the Asian Human Rights Commission and
      Asian Legal Resource Centre with whom my work is intertwined. I hope the
      occasion of this award will provide us with a further opportunity to
      rededicate ourselves for a future in which all of us, men, women, children
      can live with dignity and without humiliation".
      Mr. Fernando also believes that the human rights have to become a peoples'
      movement. He said: " For long time human rights movement have been small
      groups often from the more educated classes. However, it is time for the
      ordinary people to participate in these movements and the human rights to
      become a topic that is discussed in everyday life. This is even more
      necessary as in almost all parts of Asia there is a rapid breakdown of law an
      order and increase of intense violence. The people themselves have to take
      initiative in reforms such as police reforms, judicial reforms and reforms of
      the justice systems.
      Further, the human rights of the most neglected groups should be given
      prominence, for example, the issue of Dalits in India who have been at the
      bottom of the society for thousands of years. There are such groups in all
      parts of Asia. Unless people themselves take initiative to develop and expand
      the human rights movement, the elite groups will engage in displacing
      democracy because the elite in Asia finds the expansion of social equality as
      a threat to them".

      _____


      #3.

      Civil society consultation
      Kashmiri people's rights
      Lahore 21-22 April 2001
      (South Asia Forum for Human Rights)

      This meeting of representatives of civil society organisations and
      concerned individuals belongings to different parts of Azad Jammu and
      Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and civil society organisations and human rights
      activists from Pakistan.

      -- having deliberated on the situation prevailing in their territory and
      the impact of the conflict in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir,
      particularly on the rights, interest and life of the people of the area,

      -- welcoming the initiative for this consultation taken by South Asia Forum
      for Human Rights,

      -- appreciating the sharing of their concerns by a number of civil society
      leaders in Pakistan, and

      Reiterating its considered view that Jammu and Kashmir is not merely a
      territorial dispute between India and Pakistan but is an issue primarily
      concerning the fundamental human rights of the people of the state, whose
      status as the principal party to the issue cannot be disputed, and that any
      settlement of the problem must be democratic, peaceful, non-communal, and
      in harmony with the pluralist nature of the state society.

      Adopts the following declaration of civil society's concerns and resolves:

      Civil society's concerns and objectives

      The division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and confrontation between
      the divided parts have brought untold suffering and misery to the civil
      society in the entire state, particularly in the territories of Azad Jammu
      and Kashmir and Gilgit-Balistan. As a result of the drawing of cease-fire
      line/LoC the civilian population of this region has been deprived of its
      rights and possibilities of establishing political, economic and social
      welfare institutions. To realise this peace must be immediately guaranteed.

      The forced division of Jammu and Kashmir is being maintained by the ruling
      elite of India and Pakistan in their own interests. The paramount interest
      of the people of Jammu and Kashmir must be given primacy.

      Efforts to transform the Kashmiri people's struggle for their rights into a
      religious issue are undermining this struggle and the character of the
      Kashmiri society. This trend must be resisted.

      All violence in any part of Kashmir on the basis of belief, ethnicity or
      political ideology amounts to crime against humanity and must be brought to
      an end.

      The insurgency across the LoC, especially during the past 12 years, has
      disturbed the lives of more than a million people. Over 70,000 peoples have
      died and countless others wounded. No more of such losses should be allowed.

      The long-drawn-out conflict has resulted in impoverishment of the people
      and lowering of their educational, health and employment levels. This
      process of decline needs to be reversed.

      The territories of Kashmir have been turned into dumps of lethal weapons.
      In the areas along the LoC stocks of grenades and land-mines pose serious
      threats to people's life and security. All these areas must be cleared of
      all dangerous weapons and mines.

      While the entire civilian population has been suffering, the plight of
      women, children and socially weak section is especially indescribable.
      Their rights are denied and they suffer the consequences of militancy.
      Special efforts must be made to protect them and extend succor to the
      innocent victims of conflict.

      The turning of Kashmir territory into a battleground for over a million
      troops has caused devastation of environment, especially forests and
      forests based life. All troops from these areas must be withdrawn.

      The dividing line between the two parts of Kashmir should be demilitarised
      and the Kashmiri peoples' right to freely travel to any part of the state
      recognised.

      All forms of cross-border help to insurgency must be stopped forthwith.

      The recognition of militant religious groups as a bonafide party to
      cease-fire has compromised the interests of the civil society and fuelled
      religious fanaticism. The fact that the civilian population is the
      principal party must be recognised.

      Regardless of the status of the parties to the current ceasefire, it has
      brought relief to the people in the border region and must be made
      permanent.

      The culture of gunrunning in the name of Jihad is eroding the common
      people's right to peace and it must be seriously discouraged.

      A large number of people have been rendered jobless and homeless over the
      past 12 years. All of them must be allowed to return to their homes.

      The people of AJK have been deprived of the benefit of their natural
      resources. Their rights on these resources should be recognised.

      The people of Jammu and Kashmir in all parts of the territory must be
      guaranteed their basic human rights, especially their rights to
      representative governance, rule of law, non-discrimination on the basis of
      belief, gender, domicile or social status.

      The rights of the people in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in
      Gilgit-Baltistan, to set up democratic institutions should be recognised.

      The Azad Jammu and Kashmir constitution's provisions which make acceptance
      of accession to Pakistan a necessary condition for participation in
      elections or joining service .should be repealed.

      The participants resolve:

      The representatives of the civil society resolve to struggle severally and
      collectively, through all peaceful means of mobilisation, especially women,
      workers, and professionals, to realise the objectives mentioned in this
      declaration.

      This meeting further resolves to set up a coalition of Civil Society
      organisations for the realisation of its objectives and constitutes a
      committee comprising Mr. Mohammad Saeed Asad (Bhimber), Mr. Naveed Martaza
      Bukhari (Mirpur), Mr. Basharat Mahboob (Rawlakto), Prof. Khaleeq (Bagh),
      MR. Iqbal (Kotli), Mr. Abdur Rahman (Neelum Valley), MR. K. D. Khan
      (Muzaffarabad), Mr. Ishfaqullah Shawl (Muhajreen), Ms. Mumtaz Khan
      (Muzaffarabad), Ms. Ghazala Ambreen (Muzaffarabad) and Mr. Farooq Niazi,
      Convenor / Coordinator (Muzaffarabad) to carry this work further.

      List of Participants
      Civil society Consultation
      On Kashmir people's rights
      (South Asia Forum for Human Rights)
      Lahore 21-22 April 2001

      S. No.NameAddress1Muhammad Saeed AssadBhimber2Kh. Rehman Neelum
      Valley3Shazia BukhariMuzaffarabad4Mrs. Mumtaz
      KhanMuzaffarabad5Mrs. Nasreen BukhariMuzaffarabad6Mrs. Salma
      GhilineMuzaffarabad7Raja Muhammad Sabir KhanTehsil Dhirkot8Khawaja
      Muhammad AminMuzaffarabad9M. AnwarIslamabad10Farooq
      NiaziMuzaffarabad11Anwar KhanNakyal Distt. Kotli12Muhammad
      IqbalKotli13Husain NaqiLahore14K. D. Khan (Advocate)Tehsil: Hatian
      Bala, Distt. MZD15Ishtiaq Husain KhanBagh16Arif
      ShahidRawalpindi17I. A. RehmanLahore18Abdul
      RazaqMuzaffarabad19Ishtiaq AhmadMuzaffarabad20Mubashir
      HassanLahore21Ms. Ghazala AhmreenMuzaffarabad22Ms.Hamida
      BanoSrinagar23Ms. TahiraMuzaffarabad24M. Sheeraz
      KhanIslamabad25M. Basharat MehboobRawlakkot26Sajjad
      TareenIslamabad27R. Nadeem Ehsan KhanMuzaffarabad28Ishfaqullah
      ShawlIslamabad29Masood Alam Lahore30Naveed
      BukhariMirpur31Muhsen Ali TurkIslamabad32Khawar
      HassanLahore33Sardar, Abdul, QadeerRawlakot34Sardar Muhammad Anwar
      IqbalLahore35Naveera Tauseef KhanLahore36A. Hameed
      GondalLahore37Dr. TalibullahLahore38Zubair KhanLahore

      _____


      #4.


      CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR FILM SOUTH ASIA '01

      Film South Asia '01, the third edition of the biennial festival of South
      Asian documentaries, is being held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 4 to 7
      October 2001. We call on filmmakers, film producers and other film
      professionals to send in their entries for this unique event which
      showcases the best of South Asian non-fiction films. All entries will be
      selected for screening at the festival by a South Asian selection
      committee. The festival has competitive and non-competitive categories
      and awards with citations and cash prizes will be given to the three best
      films for overall excellence. The last date for submission of entries is 30
      June 2001.

      Details on the Film South Asia ’01, organised by Himal South Asian
      magazine and Himal Association, is available at
      www.himalassociation.org/fsa


      _____


      #5.

      GAR TOOT GAY TO HAR GAY

      Jab mere watan ki galiyon men
      Zulmat ne pankh pasare the
      Aur raat ke kale badal ne
      Her sheher men dera dala tha
      Jab basti, basti dehek uthi
      Yun lagta tha sab rakh hua
      Yun lagta tha mehshar hai bapa
      Aur raat ke zalim saae se
      Bachne ka koi yara bhi na tha
      Sadyon men tarasha tha jis ko
      Insan ke anthak hathon ne
      Tehzeeb ke us gehware men
      Her phool dehekta shola tha
      Jab nam-e-khuda eendhan ki tarha
      Bhatti men jalaya jane laga
      Barbaryat apne josh pe thi
      Aur nek khuda ke sab bande
      Mardood-e-haram thehraye gaye
      Jab shauhar, bete, bhai, pidar
      Sab na-e-khuda ke kam aye
      Jab nafrat, wehshat fun thehri
      Is fun ki bazmen aam huyeen
      Aawaz thi ek Insaan ki bhi
      Is shor ke beehad jangal men
      Jo mitne ko tayyar na thi
      Jo zehnon ko garmati rahi
      Jo chhalni jism se kahti rahi
      Uth hath badha
      Hathon ko pakarh
      Lakhon hen idhar tere jaise
      Is jang ko jari rakhna hai
      Gar toot gaye to har gaye

      Gauhar Raza

      _____


      #6.

      Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2001 19:12:04 +0530


      Dear friends,

      about 20 member team from Pakistan shall reach India in first half of July
      with 15 girl students, and 5 lady teachers. We are organizing a two
      weeks-long interaction for these students from Pakistan with Indian
      students, and people too, from diverse backgrounds, in LUCKNOW, DELHI and
      JAIPUR.

      In Lucknow, we shall be organizing a joint convention of students of both
      the countries where children will discuss Indo-Pak relationships and
      identify the challenges in making them better. We are also organizing a
      JAN ADALAT (Public Court) where senior Ministers of ruling and opposition
      parties will asnwer the questions raised by 30 member panel of 15 students
      each from Pakistan and India. Similar discussions shall be held in
      village LALPUR too.

      We need to cover the expenses involved. So please donate and/or take up
      some big expense which include
      1. BUS hiring charges for about 10 days in Lucknow and Lalpur village :
      Every day the bus will cost us about Rs. 2500 and for 10 days, we need to
      pay Rs. 25, 000 for hiring the bus.

      2. Food, breakfast, lunch and dinners, for students and teachers of both
      the countries and other incidental expenses, about Rs. 5000 every day so,
      Rs. 50,000.
      3. Organizing CULTURAL EVENINGS EVERY DAY, with few evenings of renowned
      artistes of not-so-popular but traditional art forms like QUawwali,
      Dhrupad, Thumri, etc. The 5 artiste groups we have contacted, demand Rs.
      10,000 for a performance and a little introduction of their art to
      children of both the countries. (10,000 x 5 = 50,000) VENUE or CAMPUS IS
      FREE, because Gulzar's Natyagram has provided us the venue free of charge.

      However seating SOUND and LIGHTING arrangements have to be made still. (
      Rs. 10, 000 in total for all the programmes) So we need 10,000 + 50,000
      = 60,000 Approximately the event is going to cost us Rs. 60,000 + 50,000
      + 25, 000 = Rs. 1, 35, 000 or US $ 3000.
      ********************************************************************************
      *******
      Please send contributions in favour of "ASHA", to A-893, Opposite old
      Gazipur Thana, Indira Nagar, Lucknow-226 016. India.
      KINDLY SUPERSCRIBE THE ENVELOPE "INDO-PAK CHILDREN'S MEET FUND" looking
      forward to your support, kind regards, bobby

      _____


      #7.

      Latest from Permanent Black [Publisher from India]

      FRANCIS ROBINSON


      The 'Ulama of Farangi Mahall
      and Islamic Culture in South Asia


      (Hardback / 275pp / ISBN 81-7824-006-8 /Rs 545)
      UK / USA / EUROPE RIGHTS WITH C.HURST & CO.

      Distributed by Orient Longman <http://www.orientlongman.com>
      Also available through
      Manohar Books <manbooks@...>
      DK Distributors <dkpd@...>
      Ram Advani Bookseller <radvani@...>

      Farangi Mahall was India's most important school of Islam, alongside
      Deoband. The Farangi Mahallis were consolidators of rationalist traditions
      within Islamic scholarship.

      This book is the first full-length treatment in English of this important
      body of Islamic scholars, teachers and leaders. Based on their writings,
      records and private papers, it addresses a variety of issues: the
      establishment of specific traditions of scholarship and mysticism in
      eighteenth-century Awadh; the place of these traditions in Perso-Islamic
      culture from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries; the traditions and
      values of the Farangi Mahall family; and the attempts of Muslim
      intellectuals to respond to the challenges presented by British rule and
      Western culture. The work of the Farangi Mahallis is also placed in the
      context of an Islamic world system based on shared systems of formal and
      spiritual knowledge.

      Francis Robinson is Professor of the History of South Asia at Royal
      Holloway, University of London, and the author of Separatism Among Indian
      Muslims (1974), Atlas of the Islamic World since 1500 (1982), Varieties of
      South Asian Islam (1988), and Islam and Muslim History in South Asia (2000).
      Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire
      (2000) and of Thomas Gray and Literary Authority (1993).

      _____


      #8.


      U.S. commission says Indian government should curb religious intolerance

      By Aziz Haniffa, India Abroad News Service

      Washington, May 1 - While acknowledging India's religious diversity, a U.S.
      commission has said the American government should "persistently press India
      to pursue perpetrators of violent acts that target members of religious
      groups."

      In its 2001 report the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
      said here, "The U.S. government should make clear its concern to the BJP
      (Bharatiya Janata Party)-led government that virulent nationalist rhetoric
      is fueling an atmosphere in which perpetrators believe they can attack
      religious minorities with impunity."

      The commission is a federal government entity created by the International
      Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor religious freedom in other
      countries and advise the president, the secretary of state and Congress on
      how best to promote it.

      The report was released Monday at a Capitol Hill news conference and has
      been submitted to the Bush administration and Congress. The commission
      states its "aim is not to impose American practices or values, but to hold
      those countries accountable to international commitments, such as those
      expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

      Based on its findings, the State Department then designates the worst
      violators of religious freedom as "countries of particular concern," which
      are then subject to sanction or other action by the president."

      Currently, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Iran, Iraq, Serbia, and Sudan are on
      the State Department hit list. India and Pakistan, along with Uzbekistan and
      Vietnam, though not on the State Department's "countries of particular
      concern," according to the Commission are "countries in which the government
      engages in or tolerates grave violations of religious freedom."

      The report, however, acknowledged that India "is religiously a very diverse
      country that generally respects religious freedom. India has a
      democratically elected government and is governed by the rule of law."

      The chairman on the 11-member Commission, Elliot Abrams, told IANS that the
      commission does not favor any punitive action -- like sanctions or
      conditioning trade links -- against democratic India as it does and is
      pushing for against authoritarian China.

      Abrams, former assistant secretary of state for human rights during the
      Reagan administration and one of the most influential Republicans, said,
      "First, the subject should be a matter of dialogue with India," and U.S.
      officials should take it up with New Delhi to "show how much concern that we
      have."

      Abrams also said U.S. agencies like the U.S. Agency for International
      Development (USAID) and others can be helping in alleviating this problem in
      India by helping Indian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) tackle this
      problem.

      The report said Washington "should support the stated policy of the BJP to
      oppose any move toward the nationalization of any religious institutions in
      India," and added that the U.S. government should also "press the Government
      of India to oppose any attempts to interfere with or prohibit ties between
      religious communities inside India and their co-religionists outside the
      country, and any government efforts to regulate religious choice or
      conversion."

      It said as the U.S. pursues greater engagement with India on a full range of
      issues, "it should take advantage of new opportunities for
      government-to-government cooperation and communication on human rights,
      including religious freedom."

      In this regard, the report said Washington should press New Delhi "to allow
      official visits from government agencies concerned with human rights,
      including religious freedom."

      The report also recommended that the U.S. should "allocate funds from its
      foreign assistance programs for the promotion of education on religious
      toleration and inclusiveness in India."

      The report declared that "if progress is made, the U.S. should seek ways in
      which it can respond positively through enhanced economic ties."

      In its preamble on the section on India, the report said the commission "has
      directed its attention to India in light of the disturbing increase in the
      past several years in severe violence against religious minorities in that
      country."

      "The violence," it said, "is especially troubling because it has coincided
      with the increase in political influence at the national and, in some
      places, the state level of the Sangh Parivar, a collection of exclusivist
      Hindu national groups of which the current ruling party, the BJP, is a
      part."

      --India Abroad News Service
      ends/pg

      ______

      #9.


      Dear Friends the following statement would be released to the press on
      Monday, May 7, 2001. Initiated by Prof Prabhat Pattnaik and Zoya Hasan
      fron JNU, already more than 200 people have signed it. Please circulate/
      add your name and please do inform me latest by Monday 10am.
      Thanks
      Shabnam <shabhashmi@...>

      A STATEMANT ON THE UGC CHAIRMAN'S COMMENTS ON SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE
      INTRODUCTION OF ASTROLOGY COURSES IN UNIVERSITIES.

      We the undersigned strongly object to the comments of Dr. Hari Om Gautam,
      Chairman of the UGC, about the social sciences, particularly political
      science and sociology, and his attempt to reduce these established
      disciplines to the plane of Vedic Astrology, while defending the
      retrograde proposal for the introduction of astrology courses in
      universities (Asian Age, 19 April 2001). This view is disturbing when
      expressed by someone as important as the Chairman of the UGC. Furthermore,
      this perspective appears to be widely shared by policy makers in the
      educational establishment today.
      In his effort to claim a scientific status for astrology, Dr. Gautam has
      defined science in a misleading manner, arguing that it involves, 'probing
      research, investigation and prediction'. By defining science entirely in
      these terms, he has lost sight of the fundamental tenets of science.
      Science constitutes a body of knowledge, which is not only testable, but
      open to interrogation and refutation. It provides explanations for a
      certain group of phenomena through an integrated and mutually consistent
      set of propositions. The totality of its propositions, both those
      involving cause and effect relations, and the mechanisms through which
      they operate must in principle be testable. All the social sciences are
      informed by this widely accepted understanding of science. Astrology is
      not. Otherwise all practitioners of occult and black magic can be called
      scientists because much probing and prediction are inherent in these areas
      as well; these subjects too should then figure among courses offered by
      universities!
      Besides, if astrology, which claims to predict everything from earthquakes
      to disease is to be accepted as a science, then there would be no scope
      left for any other science, seismology and medicine, for example.
      Astrology whose purported domain is all encompassing- from planets to
      human affairs - must then be either accepted as the sole science or
      rejected in toto.
      It augurs ill for higher education in the country if a person who is
      unable to distinguish between science and superstition or science and
      ritual, and who casts aspersions on social sciences while
      institutionalizing the propagation of unreason, is at the helm of the
      affairs of the UGC.

      ______

      #10.

      [5 May 2001]

      Update on BJP activists' intimidation of a Bookseller(Mumbai)

      After the morcha of Human rights activists to Nirmal Nagar police station,
      Bandra East, Mumbai (1st May) for confiscating the books of Periyar
      Ramasamy Naicker and Dr. Ambedkar, the police sent an apology note to
      Salim Saboowala, the bookseller concerned and returned his books.

      Not satisfied with this development the local BJP activists led by BJP
      leader Vinod Tawade staged a protest in front of the office of Mahanagar,
      a paper, which had carried this news item, on 4th May. Mr. Tawade
      presented a memorandum addressed to Mahanagar Editor stating that these
      books have derogatory references to Hindu gods, Sant Ramdas and Shivaji.
      He demanded that the sale of these books should be banned and if these are
      allowed to be sold then his volunteers will physically prevent this sale.

      The sale of such books will create a social tension, and in that case
      Govt. will be responsible for the consequences. Meanwhile a delegation of
      Vidrohi Sanskritic Chalwal and Janata Party leaders met the Home
      secretary, Maharashtra, requesting for an action against the illegal
      activity of the concerned Police officer.

      This seems to be setting the ball rolling for agitation by the Vidrohi
      Sanskritic Chalwal and counter-reaction by BJP both, and many a prominent
      writers like A.H.Salunkhe have expressed their disgust at the action of
      the police and attitude of BJP workers. Vidrohi activists are planning a
      major campaign for the right to sell the books and literature of Periyar
      and Ambedkar while BJP leaders are threatening to prevent this democratic
      right by the use of their muscle power. Vidrohi activist Subodh More has
      also called for a broader meeting and platform of progressive workers to
      defend the right of freedom of expression.

      We should recall the Periyar the pioneer of Self Respect movement, was for
      the rights of Dalits and women and his books give a subaltern version of
      the Ramayan, while Dr. Ambedkar again struggled for the rights of women
      and Dalits and was critical of Ram for his murder of Shambuk, and
      banishment of Sita by him when she was pregnant with his children.

      -------------------

      The previous mail on this subject

      1st May 2001 (Mumbai)

      Update on BJP activists' intimidation of a Bookseller

      After the morcha of Human rights activists to Nirmal Nagar police station,
      Bandra East, Mumbai (1st May) for confiscating the books of Periyar
      Ramasamy Naicker and Dr. Ambedkar, the police sent an apology note to
      Salim Saboowala, the bookseller concerned and returned his books.

      Not satisfied with this development the local BJP activists led by BJP
      leader Vinod Tawade staged a protest in front of the office of Mahanagar,
      a paper, which had carried this news item on 4th May. Mr. Tawade presented
      a memorandum addressed to Mahanagar Editor stating that these books have
      derogatory references to Hindu gods, Sant Ramdas and Shivaji. He demanded
      that the sale of these books should be banned and if these are allowed to
      be sold then his volunteers will physically prevent this sale. The sale of
      such books will create a social tension, and in that case Govt. will be
      responsible for the consequences. Meanwhile a delegation of Vidrohi
      Sanskritic Chalwal and Janata Party leaders met the Home secretary,
      Maharashtra, requesting for an action against the illegal activity of the
      concerned Police officer. This seems to be setting the ball rolling for
      agitation by the Vidrohi Sanskritic Chalwal and counter-reaction by BJP
      both, and many a prominent writers like A.H.Salunkhe have expressed their
      disgust at the action of the police and attitude of BJP workers. Vidrohi
      activists are planning a major campaign for the right to sell the books
      and literature of Periyar and Ambedkar while BJP leaders are threatening
      to prevent this democratic right by the use of their muscle power.

      We should recall the Periyar the pioneer of Self Respect movement, was for
      the rights of Dalits and women and his books give a subaltern version of
      the Ramayan, while Dr. Ambedkar again struggled for the rights of women
      and Dalits and was critical of Ram for his murder of Shambuk, and
      banishment of Sita by him when she was pregnant with his children.

      _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

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