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Once accosted for her hijab, 22-year-old woman now teaches Muslim empowerment

The programme has grown since the first class was offered to about a dozen girls in the basement of a community center in Brooklyn. The basic programme, called Mentee Muslimah (Muslimah is the Arabic word for Muslim women), is a 13- session summer camp attended in New York by about 50 young women of high-school age that follows a 100-page course outline Abdelhamid developed during an independent study course at Middlebury.

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NCP accuses Manohar Parrikar of ‘interference’ in Goa affairs

In the past, Parrikar had said that he does not come to Goa often, but he cannot be questioned for coming here as he belongs to the state.

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‘Anarchist’ Kejriwal still running party, not government: BJP <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaOnce accosted for her hijab, 22-year-old woman now teaches Muslim empowermentIndiaInterlinking roads key to India’s growth: PM ModiIndiaPM Modi attacks Congress, asks them to vow to allow Parliament to function in 2016IndiaNCP accuses Manohar Parrikar of ‘interference’ in Goa affairsIndia’Anarchist’ Kejriwal still running party, not government: BJPIndiaMercury settles at sub-zero temp in Kashmir; Leh coldest <!– /.block –>

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Intolerance Debate 2015: Who is under the radar?

Sundar Pichai, the Indian-American CEO of Google, before his visit to India wrote an essay titled ‘Let’s not let fear defeat our values’. Though he was referring to Donald Trump’s comments on Muslim, he made his stand for tolerance clear, “And it’s not just about opportunity. The open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance of new Americans is one of the country’s greatest strengths and most defining characteristics. And that is no coincidence — America, after all, was and is a country of immigrants. That is why it’s so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days — statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion.”

Yesha Kotak

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ISIS leader killed in air strike was close to Paris attacker: Mayor <!– /.block –>
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Ensuring women safety: Mobile phone companies have agreed to install panic button, says Maneka Gandhi

These girls will be specially trained to function as a bridge between the police and community women and will help in ensuring protection of women against violence of all kinds.

PTI
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TN Muslim organisation issues fatwa against Ramdev’s Patanjali products <!– /.block –>
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Did not invite PM Modi for convocation: AMU VC

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Vice Chancellor clarified that any invitation to the PM involved a large responsibility and before taking any such decision, he would not only have to consult various bodies of the university but also different organisations representing teachers and students

Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (Retd) Zameeruddin Shah on Tuesday said that his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi was solely for the purpose of ensuring funds for different development projects of the university.Shah told PTI that reports suggesting that his meeting with the Prime Minister was to invite him for the university’s next convocation, is mere speculation and entirely baseless. “The question of inviting the PM was not even raised. Therefore, any media report suggesting that I had gone with the purpose of inviting the PM is entirely speculative.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I met the Prime Minister solely to apprise him about the inequitable funding for AMU, when compared to several other central universities,” he said. The Vice Chancellor clarified that any invitation to the PM involved a large responsibility and before taking any such decision, he would not only have to consult various bodies of the university but also different organisations representing teachers and students. He added that he was not interested in stoking any controversy at the campus by indulging in any divisive issues whatsoever.Ever since an AMU-based youth organisation aired a suggestion earlier this month for inviting the PM to the campus, speculation has been rife about Modi’s arrival here. Interestingly, only two PMs of the country have addressed convocation ceremonies at AMU. In 1948, the then PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and in 1964, PM Lal Bahadur Shastri delivered the convocation addresses at the university.On the shortage of funds for several projects in the campus, the AMU VC said that the university was falling short of funds for construction projects at its three off-campus centres in Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar.The VC said that the AMU had earlier been involved in some important environmental projects under Ganga cleaning programme and he had conveyed the enthusiasm of the university’s scientific community in environmental issues, solar energy and nanotechnology, to the PM. Shah claimed that the PM responded favourably to all issues raised by him.

How Sirajuddin brainwashed girl from Pune

The probe has also revealed that out of the 150 members who formed the core ISIS group on Telegram app, at least six, including Sirajuddin, reside in India.

The reclusive Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) polymer wing marketing manager, Mohd Sirajuddin, who never connected with even his neighbours in the multi-storeyed apartment where he lived in Jaipur, had brainwashed a girl and a woman from India and South America respectively into becoming suicide bombers.Ongoing police investigations and Sirajuddin’s sustained grilling have revealed that he had brainwashed a 16-year-old school girl from Pune and a young woman in Argentina into becoming suicide bombers for the ISIS.The duo formed seminal part of the 150-odd core group members from across the world who were connected actively with the IOC manager over the online application Telegram.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both, the Argentine woman who converted from Christianity to Islam a few years ago and the school girl from Pune were in constant touch with Sirajuddin over phone as well. They had been brainwashed to the extent that both of them were readying selves for training abroad to become suicide bombers, who would wreak havoc on selected targets anywhere in the world, state police sources in the know of the investigations confided to dna.The probe has also revealed that out of the 150 members who formed the core ISIS group on Telegram app, at least six, including Sirajuddin, reside in India.Besides the Pune girl, two young working professionals hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, a youngster based in national capital Delhi and a youth from South India were among the Indians featuring in the core group.Sirajuddin, who in the past had spurned an offer by ISIS elements to go to Fiji with other members of his group for some major plans, was offered to travel to Libya along with his close channel members for some big task, sources added.The IOC marketing manager’s grilling has also revealed that he was in constant touch with a United Arab Emirates woman (an office executive in health sector) over phone and used to discuss with her several plans, including fund raising and recruitment. The woman who had honey-trapped Sirajuddin over a popular social media platform has already been grilled by anti-terror agencies after being brought to Hyderabad.Investigations have also brought to the fore that right from his engineering education days in Suratkal (Karnataka) and Coimbatore he was inclined to extremist ideology, particularly owing to growing US intervention in affairs of Muslim nations and also happenings in Kashmir.His quizzing has revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the four global enemies for ISIS members and sympathisers. The other three ISIS adversaries include US president Barack Obama, Israeli premier Benjamin Netantyahu and Iranian supreme leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei.The ISIS propagators indoctrinate among their followers on how to conquer three parts of the world, the battleground (including Syria and Iraq and adjoining neighbourhood where they were engaged in bloody battle for supremacy now), the entire west which is now fighting against them and the entire Indian sub-continent, which in the past was ruled by Muslim rulers.

Kamlesh Tiwari Row: Several protesters booked for shouting pro-ISIS slogans in Rajasthan

The rally was organised on Friday in Malpura town in protest against Hindu Mahasabha activist Kamlesh Tiwari’s alleged derogatory remarks on the Muslim community.

All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) supporters taking out a protest rally against Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari over his remarks against Prophet Muhammad in New Delhi PTI

Some people were booked for allegedly shouting pro-ISIS slogans at a rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, police said on Saturday. The rally was organised on Friday in Malpura town in protest against Hindu Mahasabha activist Kamlesh Tiwari’s alleged derogatory remarks on the Muslim community. “During the rally, which started from a mosque and passed through the town, some people shouted slogans favouring the terror organisation ISIS,” SP Tonk Deepak Kumar said. “The matter was brought to my notice by policemen, who were deployed in security arrangements. At least five of the accused were identified on the basis of a video footage,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An FIR was lodged today with Malpura police station against the identified as well as unidentified persons for shouting ‘ISIS Zindabad’ under section 153 (A) of IPC (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony). “There were inputs that they also shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, but this is not seen in the video footage. The matter is very serious and is being investigated thoroughly,” he said. On Thursday, a marketing manager in Indian Oil Corporation Mohammad Sirazuddin was arrested in the state capital for spreading the ideology of ISIS through social media. (Read: Here’s why 1 lakh Muslims are demanding death penalty for Kamlesh Tiwari)

Indian Oil Corporation marketing manager arrested for ISIS links

“The accused was also active in flaring up and encouraging Muslim youths for (joining) ISIS activities,” Tripathi said.

Reuters
A senior official of state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) was arrested on Thursday for alleged links with terror organisation ISIS, police said. The Special Operation Group (SOG) and ATS of Rajasthan Police arrested Mohd Sirazudin, the marketing manager of IOC in Jaipur.”Sirazudin, hailing from Gulbarga in Karnataka,… was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement in (activities of) international terrorist organisation ISIS, supplying official inputs and recruiting organisation members in the country,” Alok Tripathi, Additional DGP (ATS and SOG), said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The accused was also active in flaring up and encouraging Muslim youths for (joining) ISIS activities,” Tripathi said.On a complaint, SOG and ATS teams verified antecedents of the accused, and checked his WhatsApp and Facebook accounts. Objectionable materials were seized from his residence in Jaipur, the ADG said, adding he used to contact youths through social media.A number of issues of ISIS’ online magazine “Dabik”, pictures, and video were also recovered from him, he said. Further investigation was on, he said.

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking enactment of uniform civil code

The bench said those who are being allegedly discriminated have not come forward for redressal

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition by a Delhi BJP leader seeking a direction to the Centre and Parliament to enact a uniform civil code to put an end to alleged discrimination being faced by Muslim women.A bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, said it was not for the apex court to pass a direction to Parliament to introduce a Bill in this regard and warned the petitioner that if such petitions were filed without regard to the law, the court will come down very heavily. “If you file such petitions, we will have to come down heavily,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, said while disapproving the submissions made by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium on behalf of Ashwini Kumar Upadhaya.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench said those who are being allegedly discriminated have not come forward for redressal. “Has anybody from the community discriminated come forward,” the bench said adding that “it is a wastage of time going through such petitions when law is well settled.” “Legal position is very well settled. There are judgements on the issue and you are required to look into it. This court had already decided not to go into the issue,” the bench said. “The Supreme Court has already said that it is for Parliament to take a view on the issue,” the bench further said and asked the senior advocate “you tell us how a mandamus can be issued to Parliament to introduce a Bill on Uniform Civil Code? We hope that Parliament will address these issues but it is not in the realm of courts.”The local BJP leader and practicing advocate had placed reliance on two Supreme Court judgments, one of which was a recent judgment delivered by Justice Anil R Dave and Justice A K Goel. “If there is a judgment already, why don’t you seek its implementation rather than file a fresh petition?” the bench said.

Babri mosque anniversary: ‘Day of victory’ vs ‘day of sorrow’

Meanwhile in Delhi, members of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad today pleged to work for early construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya as they marked the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’.

Muslim groups observed ‘day of sorrow’ while Hindu outfits celebrated ‘shaurya divas’ on the 23rd anniversary of Babri mosque demolition today, which passed off peacefully amid tight security in Ayodhya, as well as in other parts of the country. Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) observed the day as ‘Yaum-e-Gham’ (day of sorrow) while VHP observed ‘shaurya divas’ (day of victory). On the occasion, Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Advocate General Zafaryab Jilani, who is also a BMAC member, said that the battle for Babri mosque is being supported and fought by Hindus. “The case of Babri mosque is being pleaded in Supreme Court by a group of eminent lawyers who are members of Hindu community,” Jilani said in Ayodhya.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are fighting the legal and political battle of Babri mosque on the support of 90 per cent of secular Hindus of the country,” he said. Muslims in the twin town of Ayodhya-Faizabad observed black Sunday today. Incidentally, the mosque was razed on a Sunday on December 6, 1992. People of the Muslim community did not open their shops and hoisted black flags to protest against the demolition of Babri mosque. Indian Union Muslim League observed a ‘dharna’ outside SSP office in Faizabad.Meanwhile in Delhi, members of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad today pleged to work for early construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya as they marked the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’. VHP Delhi President Rampal Singh said the temple should be build through an act of Parliament. “Trusting the judicial system, Hindus waited for 60 years from 1950 till 2010. But now the Hindu community wants the temple to be built throgh an act of Parliament on the lines of Somnath Temple,” Singh said.In Punjab, activists of Shiv Sena observed the anniversary as ‘Shourya Divas’ by holding a function in a local temple in Phagwara. In Hyderabad, a bandh called by All India Majlis-e- Ittehad-ul Muslimeen and other local outfits passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported in the city, police said.

Babri Mosque demolition: Why the incident was an institutional failure

In the book “Destruction of the Babri Masjid: A National Dishonour”, author and legal luminary AG Noorani traces the conspiracy and discusses how the civil and criminal cases concerning the title to the Babri Masjid and accountability for its destruction on December 6, 1992, have all but run their course. In an exclusive interview with dna, he said that then PV Narasimha Rao was culpable because he knew what was happening and yet did not do anything about it.

The Babri Mosque being demolished in December 1992

In the book “Destruction of the Babri Masjid: A National Dishonour”, author and legal luminary AG Noorani traces the conspiracy and discusses how the civil and criminal cases concerning the title to the Babri Masjid and accountability for its destruction on December 6, 1992, have all but run their course. He also blames the secular Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) governments in Uttar Pradesh for showing little stamina and proving to be impediments in the way of pursuing cases against the accused. In an exclusive interview with dna, he said that then PV Narasimha Rao was culpable because he knew what was happening and yet did not do anything about it. He also observed that the Babri Majid issue should not have been a Muslim issue and that the Babri Masjid Action Committee had committed mistakes. Excerpts from the interview:<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>You said the role of Congress has been treacherous. Can you explain?Muslims have earned a bad name in the Shah Bano case. The truth is Indira Gandhi had arrived at a pact with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). To please the Muslims, Rajiv Gandhi passed the Muslim Women Bill, which led to the opening of locks. But they were opened through a prior agreement. The VHP stopped the agitation because of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The pact was renewed by Rajiv Gandhi. Muslims got a bad name needlessly. I had conveyed a message to the Rajiv Gandhi government through an emissary. I had said open the definition of divorce according to sharia laws, which would have meant three periods and conciliation, not Anglo-Mohammadan law. Had that been done, all sting would have been taken out. But then Rajiv Gandhi had a deal behind him.The demolition of Babri Masjid was a watershed in Indian history. How has it impacted Indian polity?Yes, it was a watershed moment. It propelled LK Advani into a position of leadership and it seemed he would become the Prime Minister. The BJP fouled the atmosphere. But such was the backlash that the Congress could not return to power in 1996. If it had not been for the mistakes on the part of Congress leadership, the BJP would not have come to power in 1998. The entire country was shocked and disgusted by the demolition. President Shankar Dayal Sharma had issued a strong statement. So the BJP didn’t gain from it. But it did help spread the message of Hindutva and that caught on. The BJP reaped the harvest. It did not last long as could be seen in the election results of 2004 and 2009.Do you mean to say that the message of Hindutva has lost its relevance and it did not capture the Hindu imagination?The point is they needed a person like Narendra Modi to carry things further. If it had not been for the UPA’s mistakes, the BJP would not have come to power. I want to emphasise there were considerable mistakes on the part of the Muslim leadership. The Babri Masjid Action Committee’s stupid call of boycott of all official functions of Republic Day was bound to have a negative impact.This is your third volume on Babri Masjid encompassing recent history. Can you give us a glimpse of what you have recorded in this volume?The evidence in this book nails Narasimha Rao, shows his culpability. He was the man who knew what was happening and he kept his eyes shut. Rao was the prime culprit and he acted in such a way that he would not be blamed. But he was responsible. From the record which I had laid hands on, it is very clear that he was communal-minded. He had a record of communal-mindedness when he was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He had a bad record during the struggle against the Nizam in Hyderabad. At one time, Advani also praised him, called him fantastic. I must mention also that it required a chief justice like Justice Venkatachaliah to make the demolition possible. I have documented that Venkatachaliah facilitated demolition by giving those court adjournments and after the demolition, Attorney General Milon Banerjee reminded him, “I had warned your lordship.” Venkatachaliah went so far as to say, “I hope you are looking after the health of the kar sevaks.” And sure enough, because of this he was appointed chairman of the Constitution Review Committee by the BJP government.From the contents of the book, it appears you are arguing that the Judiciary and the Executive virtually colluded. And even the secular SP and BSP governments riding on Muslim votes also didn’t show the stamina to pursue cases against the accused?Yes, they had virtually colluded. I wouldn’t go into technicalities. The court was set up by the UP government without the requisite notification, and without the consent of the high court. They had only to issue a notification and the trial would have proceeded. And the CBI had also played a deceitful role. When Advani was in power, they had one role, and when he was not in power, they played a different game.You have been a strong defender of secular ideals and values. The demolition of Babri Masjid harmed secularism the most. What is the future of this ideology in the country?The fabric of secularism has been impaired. The fact of the matter is Narendra Modi has won votes and popularity because of his record. We have to face realities. Every day reports show RSS is infiltrating institutions with the encouragement of the current government. It is a fearful situation. The worst thing today is the communal polarisation.You have also said Babri Masjid should not have been allowed to be made a Muslim issue alone.That is right. It was an issue of statute and law. On this basis, we should have demanded that possession should be restored.The Allahabad high court judgment had almost sanctified that it was a place of birth of Lord Ram. How do you view this judgment?The ball is now in the Supreme Court. And on past performance, really, we can’t say, when the case will be heard. By the way, the Allahabad high court judgment has been referred to a larger bench. Elections have come and gone, but the Supreme Court has not found time to decide the issue of Hindutva before it. The judgment was delivered by Justice JS Verma interpreting Hindutva (as often quoted by BJP) without taking recourse to Veer Savarkar’s book. He referred to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s book and some stray observations to validate his case.Back to the high court judgment, according to it, Hindu faith triumphs over the law of the land. The law of the land involves law of limitation. They said limitation cannot run against a Hindu temple. But a Hindu temple can acquire right to property by adverse possession. Now it need not be an established deity, it can be a leaf, a stone and if it is a matter of faith, that faith must be respected. The implications are so far reaching, I need not to spell them out.In Mumbai, there is a traffic island. In that there is a mosque, a temple and a church. And they exist peacefully. Before the idols were planted, there was a proposal to build a temple within the complex, but outside the mosque. It was actually at the chabutra that the worship was conducted. If that solution had been pursued by Rajiv Gandhi, the problem would have been over. The gates were opened by KM Pandey, the judge, who said he saw monkeys on the roof of his house and he was inspired.Historians have recorded Muslim rulers having demolished temples in the past and many Hindus feel that the demolition of Babri Masjid is justified.The majority judgment of the two Hindu judges of the high court recalled the cases of those demolitions by Muslim rulers as if that sanctifies demolitions now. Romila Thapar has documented extremely well how Buddhist places of worship were demolished by Hindus and vice versa. A Hindu Kashmiri King Harshdev looted temples to fill his coffers. But the question is: Are you going to open history to take revenge. Then there would be no end to it.You have mentioned the accountability of demolition has not been fixed and political parties in UP have colluded.Neither Samajwadi Party nor Bahujan Samaj Party has taken a stand on Babri Masjid. Muslims should realise who their friends are.How do you rate writing of history in this country?I must say there is a band of historians Sushil Srivastava and Romila Thapar and many others who are good. At the same time there is a group of historians which is propagandist. I have mentioned it without showing why. But it is remarkable these judgments of the high court running into hundreds of pages were produced at short notice. A propagandist produced material to these judges and they relied on that.

US charges man over Muslim cab driver shooting

The victim was identified by a local newspaper as a 38-year-old Moroccan immigrant.

Police officials

AFP
US police in Pittsburgh have arrested and charged a 26-year-old man with shooting a Muslim cab driver in the back in the early hours of Thanksgiving, officials said on Thursday. Muslim activists allege the shooting was a hate crime, but police told AFP those charges were still under investigation. Anthony Mohamed, 26, from Hazelwood, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania, is charged with aggravated assault, criminal attempt homicide and recklessly endangering another person, police said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The victim was identified by a local newspaper as a 38-year-old Moroccan immigrant. His name has not been released and officials say he wishes to remain anonymous for fear of safety. The driver told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the passenger asked whether he was from Pakistan and then talked about the extremist Islamic State group killing people. Police said Mohamed got into the taxi outside a casino at 1:13 am (0613 GMT) on November 26. He allegedly asked the driver to wait so he could get money to pay the fare, but returned a few minutes later with a rifle. As the victim drove off, he was shot in the back by a bullet that blew out the taxi’s rear window, police said. He was taken to hospital in a stable condition. Since the Paris attacks on November 13, activists have warned against an unprecedented anti-Muslim backlash in America, fueled by right-wing intolerance in the presidential campaign.

NCW serves notice on Sunni leader Aboobacker Musliar for ‘anti-women’ remarks

Musliar, the chief of All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, said women have no mental strength and the power to control the universe, “which lies in the hands of men”.

Sunni leader Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliar
File Photo
Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has served a notice on Sunni leader Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliar for his controversial remarks on women, Chief Lalitha Kumaramanglam said on Wednesday. At an event in Kerala last week, Musliar had described as “un-Islamic” the concept of gender equality and said that women could never equal men as “they are fit only to deliver children”. “Suo motu notice has been served on the man and a copy of it was sent to the organisers (of the event) also. We have given them one working week’s time to reply,” Kumaramanglam said. It is very unfortunate that such senior people are giving anti-women remarks, she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a very ill-educated statement. He does not know what reality is and it’s unfortunate that such a senior person in such a senior position of influence has this very backward anti-women opinion. We have started writing to the state governments saying that they should also be more proactive in discouraging such statements,” she said, at the conclusion of a national consultation on ‘Expanding Opportunities for Women with Disabilities’.Musliar, the chief of All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, said women have no mental strength and the power to control the universe, “which lies in the hands of men”.”Gender equality is something which is never going to be a reality. It is against Islam, humanity and was intellectually wrong,” he said while speaking at a camp of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) in Kozhikode.Also read: Sunni leader says ‘women only fit to deliver children’; calls gender equality ‘un-Islamic’Following outrage over his remarks, Musliar claimed that his statement has been “deliberately distorted and misinterpreted”.”Islam stands for the safety of women in a milieu of extreme feminism and misogyny. A fair approach is one that empowers them through education and social upliftment and in this sense we are implementing systematic and wide establishments under Markaz and Sunni organisations,” he later said in a release.

Intolerance debate: PM remains silent when rationalists get killed, Rahul Gandhi’s salvo at Modi

He countered PM Modi’s speech about Constitution Day saying that according to him common man – Hindu, Muslim, rich and poor were the real authors of the Constitution. He noted that the PM did not mention this in his speech.

Rahul Gandhi on Tueday addressed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the intolerance issue was discussed. He said, “When I heard PM yesterday, I realised how broadly we differ.”He countered PM Modi’s speech about Constitution Day saying that according to him common man – Hindu, Muslim, rich and poor were the real authors of the Constitution. He noted that the PM did not mention this in his speech.Slammimg the BJP on the Intolerance issue, he said, “Kalburgi and Dabholkar were killed by fanatics and the PM did not break the ice.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that VK Singh after being sworn as an MP and holding the post of General of Indian Army compared Dalit children to dogs. Gandhi said he directly challenged the Constitution.Rahul also spoke about various personalities speaking about intolerance and facing severe backlash. He also added that Arun Shourie faced flak for being critical of PM Modi. “I would like to tell you that Arun shourie, who is BJP man, was trolled on Twitter because he criticised Modi,” said Gandhi.He spoke about Dadri saying, “A Muslim man is killed in cold blood. The man ultimately responsible for his protection, the PM, remained silent.”He said that while government talks of ‘Skill India’ voice of FTII students complaining about ‘mediocre man’ heading the institute was ‘crushed.’ Talking about Aamir Khan speaking out on rising intolerance he said, “Modi ministers are trying to send Bollywood star to Pakistan…Pakistan failed because they crushed the voice of their own people.”

National Anthem row: Why Tagore would have been ashamed of modern India

Every core of his being would probably have been hurt by the way the first stanza of his poem has been used to attack people.

Rabindranath Tagore

If Rabindranath Tagore – the original proponent of #AwardsWapsi – had been alive today, he would have been shocked to see the national discourse today and the amount of jingoism that passes for patriotism. Every core of his being would probably have been hurt by the way the first stanza of his poem has been used to attack people. Recently, a Muslim family was hounded out of a movie theatre at PVR Kurla, Mumbai for allegedly not standing up during the anthem.The video showing the family being thrown out of the cinema hall was shared on YouTube. According to HT, a police officer of Ghatkopar station was quoted as saying: “The manager said they asked the family to leave after people protested. However, there was nothing to do with the religion of the family if they are Hindu or Muslim. There is no case registered.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The debate about standing up for the national anthem, played in theatres in Maharashtra before the screening of a film, has cropped up time and again. In 2014, Bollywood actress Preity Zinta threw out an audience member who hadn’t stood up for the national anthem. Last month, Kushal Tandon and Ameesha Patel had a Twitter fight over the latter not stand up during the national anthem because she was menstruating. Why Tagore would have been disturbed From all that I’ve read about Rabindranath Tagore and what he’s written, I don’t think he would’ve been very happy about people using his words to harm others. Whether someone wishes to choose to stand or sit for the national anthem is their choice. Patriotism is not compulsory. We do not have to love the nation. If we insist on that, we’re acting like fascists. And frankly, there’s far more to patriotism than standing up during the national anthem. Tagore – an ‘anti-national’ by modern-day standards If Tagore had been alive, he probably would’ve been tarred with the ‘anti-national’ brush that a lot of people tend to use for those who criticise any aspect of India. Later in his life, Tagore had become disillusioned with the idea of nationhood. He felt that that by insisting on nationalism, we were following the fallacies of our colonial rulers and the rest of Europe.He had written: “India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.”Tagore wasn’t just against any particular nation – he was like John Lennon – against the very idea of nationhood. He added: “I am not against one nation, in particular, but against the general idea of all nations.” The idea seemed anti-Indian to him, and that India’s reverence for ‘God and Humanity’ needn’t be replaced by the European concept of national identity. His views made him unpopular, not only in India but in countries like Russia, Germany, Spain, US and Japan as well.What does the law say? In 1986, three students in Kerala, belonging to the Christian denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses, were expelled for refusing to sing the national anthem. The Kerala High Court upheld the expulsion saying that there was nothing in the anthem which would hurt anyone’s religious beliefs. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, reversed the decision saying their ‘personal views and reactions are irrelevant’.The Supreme Court added: “There is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor is it disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung does not join the singing. Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung.It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing. Standing up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung but not singing oneself clearly does not either prevent the singing of the National Anthem or cause disturbance to an assembly engaged in such singing so as to constitute the offence mentioned in s. 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act”.But what about sitting through the national anthem? Suhrith Parthasarthy, a Madras HC advocate told India Today: “It is not only ridiculous but unnecessary as well. The law is not clear and does not prescribe any punishment for not standing, moreover, a person has the right to exercise his freedom of expression.” It’s time all of us recognised the right that other people have. Shouting down someone or attacking someone for not standing up during the national anthem is about as patriotic as throwing ink at someone’s face because you don’t agree with their views or shouting jingoistic slogans on TV panels.It’s time we learned to respect other people’s views, even if we don’t agree with it. That’s the true idea of tolerance and what India is about. British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill famously said, “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person was of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” This is a democracy, and a democracy does not push the will of the majority on the minority or the minority on the majority, despite how outlandish it might sound. We’ve no right to force our narrow view on patriotism upon them. In fact, whenever we’re hounding people for not standing up for the anthem, we’re simply paying great disrespect to another one of Tagore’s works – Where the Mind is Without Fear.

Mr Musliar, here she is — a woman cardiac surgeon, the likes of whom don’t exist for you

By Dr Ratna Magotra

I write this on behalf of many women cardiac surgeons practicing in India and abroad. Our existence was denied a few days back by a Kerala-based Sunni leader A P Aboobacker Musliar when he questioned if there was even a single woman among the thousands of cardiac surgeons.

I personally feel that it does not matter at all even if Musliar’s statement was true and there is no woman cardiac surgeon. It does not upset me for it does not diminish a “woman” in any way. But I am definitely incensed that he thinks women are “fit only for delivering babies”! This is regressive and most offensive and I am glad that so many Muslim leaders and scholars have panned the Maulana. Such irresponsible statements have become so common that the first reaction is to ignore such people and not put their ignorance on a premium. Well wishers and friends, however, demand that the record should be set straight on such misleading statements.

Image: FirstpostImage: Firstpost

Image courtesy: Dr Ratna Magotra

There are many women cardiac surgeons in India and indeed in the world. I have been a member of “Women in Cardiac Surgery “, a forum at the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons (AATS) that used to meet on the sidelines of the AATS annual conferences. I studied for my MBBS degree at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi, where women headed most of the surgery departments. My professional career after post-graduation in General Surgery and Cardio-Thoracic surgery involved practice in highly competitive and specialized field of cardio-thoracic surgery in large teaching hospitals like Nair and KEM hospitals in Mumbai. The patients who came to these hospitals from all over the country and neighboring countries never showed any discomfort for being operated upon by a woman, contrary to what Mr. Aboobacker may like to believe. They trusted the competence as well as the compassionate hands of women cardiac surgeons. It may also surprise the Maulana that many years back, a revered Peer Saheb from Lucknow came to KEM hospital for his bypass surgery. While I was a little apprehensive, seeing the big retinue that accompanied him, he seemed to have no such worry. He and his followers showed their gratitude by showering me with rose petals after the successful operation! I was indeed touched by his love and respect and the fact that he did not have a trace of any bias against women.

I have also had the pleasure of training many men and women in the specialty.

There are distinguished women colleagues in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and elsewhere who have worked and performed with distinction in the demanding specialty of cardio-thoracic surgery.

Maulana Aboobacker may be shocked to know that there are Muslim women cardiac surgeons who I mention with great pride if only to expose his ignorance and arrogance. I had a colleague from Turkey training with me at the Guy’s hospital, London way back in 1982; I met another young woman from Saudi Arabia who was training at the Boston Children Hospital to become a pediatric cardiac surgeon! Recently my colleague, Dr. Vivek Jawli from Bengaluru lauded Dr. Nemam Ghafouri, a, Kurdish heart surgeon who had trained in Switzerland and was training with him in Beating heart bypass surgery. She has since gone back to Kurdistan to realize her dream of building a heart centre for her people.

It is perhaps the right time that Musliar and others of his ilk get educated to shed their prejudices. Women should be left alone and unshackled to pursue their dreams.

Dr. Ratna Magotra is former Professor and Chief Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, KEM Hospital, Mumbai. She’s currently Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Smt. S R Mehta & Sir K P Cardiac Institute, Mumbai

Srinagar: Blindfolded Kashmiri Pandit invites ‘hugs’ to promote brotherhood in Valley

He said the basic aim of the campaign is to promote universal brotherhood, interfaith dialogue, tolerance and also build bridges between people of different communities within the state.

Kashmiri Pandits in May 2015 staged a protest in Srinagar demanding that the state and the Centre take the community members into confidence before any decision on their return to the Valley.
File Photo
PTI
Amid a raging debate on intolerance in the country, a Kashmiri Pandit stood blindfolded in the heart of the city inviting people to hug him to exhibit brotherhood between various communities in the Valley.Inspired by a Muslim man who stood blindfolded in Paris asking people to embrace him if they trusted him after the November 13 attacks, Sandeep Mawa, a doctor by profession, stood at Press Colony in Srinagar asking people to hug him. He was accompanied by members from Sikh and majority Muslim community, who embraced people irrespective of their religion to send a message of tolerance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We, all humans, are alike. When God has not differentiated between us, why should there be any division? There should not be any intolerance. This is the message we want to send across,” Mawa, who is the chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Reconciliation Front, said.He said the basic aim of the campaign is to promote universal brotherhood, interfaith dialogue, tolerance and also build bridges between people of different communities within the state.”We do not want politicians and agencies to divide people on the basis of religion. We will not allow anyone to harm Kashmiriyat. We oppose the hate campaign. The politics of religion is not good,” he said.Mawa said politicians should leave the people of Kashmir alone and desist from “dividing” the people.”If they do not mend their ways, there will be a civil revolution in Kashmir,” he said. He also asked the Centre to talk to Pakistan for “addressing Kashmir issue” saying the neighbouring country was “a party to the dispute”.

Marathi daily attacked for publishing blasphemous cartoon

However, the editor of the newspaper later extended an immediate apology for the cartoon.

The controversial cartoon published in the paper

Image Credit: Twitter
A leading Marathi newspaper group, Lokmat’s office was attacked in multiple places in Maharashtra. The copies of the Sunday edition of the newspaper were also burnt at several places because of a blasphemous cartoon which was published in Lokmat’s supplement Manthan. The article titled ‘ISIS cha Paisa’ (ISIS’ money) and its accompanying image irked the members of the Muslim community and hundreds of Muslims in Dhule, Nandurbar, Malegaon and other parts of Maharashtra staged various protests. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An FIR was also registered against the cartoonist and the editor of the newspaper. However, the editor of the newspaper later extended an immediate apology for the cartoon and assured that action will be taken against those responsible for the publication of the particular cartoon. Following the massive protests, security has been increased in all the Lokmat offices across Maharashtra. A top Maharashtra Police official. Security at all the Lokmat offices across Maharashtra has been beefed up.“We are monitoring the situation and we request the people to help us maintain peace,” a top Maharashtra Police official said. People also took on social media to comment on the protests:

ISIS not Muslim, people of other faith defaming Islam: Assam leader

According to the senior Muslim leader, due to the destructive activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the entire Muslim community is affected globally and suspected to be involved or sympathiser of terrorist activities.

“ISIS is not at all Muslims, rather these are people from other religion wearing masks and defaming Islam”, viewed Vice President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat HRA Choudhury.Speaking to ANI at the sideline of a convention Choudhury said, “I understand that these people (ISIS) are not Muslims at all. They are not Muslims and are from some other religion and wearing Muslim masks and doing all their activities.”Choudhury, a senior advocate of Gauhati High Court and president of Samajwadi Party of Assam’s state committee, was one of the chief guests at the convention of Tripura State Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind in Agartala Sunday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the senior Muslim leader, due to the destructive activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the entire Muslim community is affected globally and suspected to be involved or sympathiser of terrorist activities.”Everyone is affected and questions are being raised (against Islam) due to the ISIS activities. Those who are doing all these in the name of the Koran and Allah are misusing the name of Koran and Allah. See no religion teaches all these ………. a real Muslim can never do all these things,” said Choudhury.He expressed that in India’s northeast often the people of Islamic faith are often under doubt due to subversive activities conducted by intruders for neighbouring Bangladesh or even from Pakistan.According to him, Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, – the largest organisation of Muslims in India is keeping a strict vigil on such activities and if there is any attempt to involve the local Muslim population in terrorist and ISIS activities, and so it will be very tough for them to flouring in this part of India. Though a previously released map of Islamic State territorial claims did not include India or Bangladesh but included the Middle East, including Israel, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Europe including the Balkans and Spain but of late a Twitter account affiliated with the Islamic State proclaimed the formation of a new ISIS province ‘Wilayat Hind’ which includes India and Bangladesh.

Malayalam director Ali Akbar hits out at Muslim cleric, claims he was abused as a child

On Saturday, Kanthapuram had rejected Rajeena’s claims that there were instances of child abuse in madrasas and asked for evidence.

Kanthapuram

Malayalam director Ali Akbar has backed up journalist VP Rajeena’s claims about child sex abuse in madrasas and claimed that he had been abused as a kid. Challenging Muslim cleric Kanthapuram Abu Backer Musliyar, Akbar said that the ‘ustaad’ who abused him was still alive and he would be willing to reveal details if Kanthapuram wanted. On Saturday, Kanthapuram had rejected Rajeena’s claims that there were instances of child abuse in madrasas and asked for evidence.Akbar was quoted by saying India Today: “if he’s ready to accept my challenge I am ready to reveal the details. Why should I be scared of telling the truth? It is true that I am a victim of abuse at a madarsa.” Kanthapuram had also said that gender inequality was un-Islamic and women didn’t possess the mental strength that men did. “How many female heart surgeons do you see in the world? They do not have the mental strength. Men do. Women will shiver before the controlling power of a man. Women have other capabilities that men don’t. They are meant for that only,” said Kanthapuram was quoted saying.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related read: (Kerala journalist attacked over her Facebook post on child sexual abuse in madrasas)

How many years to correct mistake, Salman Rushdie asks about ‘Satanic Verses’ ban

New Delhi: Hours after former finance minister P Chidambaram described the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” in India as wrong, the author asked how many more years it would take to correct the “mistake”.

Salman Rushdie in a file photo. ReutersSalman Rushdie in a file photo. Reuters

Salman Rushdie in a file photo. Reuters

Rushdie’s remarks was prompted by Chidambaram’s admission on Saturday that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban the controversial novel was a mistake.

Chidambaram, who was minister of state home affairs when the ban was imposed in October 1988, had said at the Delhi Times LitFest on Friday that he had “no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong.”

Rushdie took to Twitter to say, “This admission just took 27 years. How many before the ‘mistake’ is corrected?”

The publication of the “Satanic Verses” in 1988 was followed by a fatwa by Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomenini calling for Rushdie to be killed, forcing the author to go into hiding.

Earlier in 2012, the author had to pull out from the Jaipur Literature Festival citing threats by some Muslim groups and had to even cancel a subsequent video address in the same festival.

PTI

Kerala: Sunni leader says ‘women only fit to deliver children’; calls gender equality ‘un-Islamic’

Sunni leader Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musliar, the chief of All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, said women have no mental strength and the power to control the universe, “which lies in the hands of men.”

A P Aboobacker
File Photo
Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia
In a controversial remark, Sunni leader Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musliar on Saturday described as “un-Islamic” the concept of gender equality and said that women could never equal men as “they are fit only to deliver children”.Musliar, the chief of All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, said women have no mental strength and the power to control the universe, “which lies in the hands of men.””Gender equality is something which is never going to be a reality. It is against Islam, humanity and was intellectually wrong,” he said while speaking at a camp of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) in Kozhikode.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Women can never equal men. They are fit only to deliver children. Women cannot withstand crisis situations,” he said. He wondered if there was even a single woman among thousands of cardiac surgeons.The 76-year-old Islamic scholar’s remarks against reservation for women in elections had set off another controversy recently. He had said 50% reservation of seats for women in civic polls was “too high” but retracted the statement later when it became controversial.Referring to the ongoing debates over allowing girls and boys to share seats in colleges, Musliar said it was “part of a calculated move to destroy Islam and culture.” He also rubbished recent allegations regarding sexual exploitations at Madrasas and asked those who raised allegations to bring evidence to prove it.A controversy had erupted recently after a woman journalist wrote an account on her Facebook wall about the alleged sexual abuse of young boys and girls in Madrasas. Related read: Kerala journalist attacked over her Facebook post on child sexual abuse in madrasas

There is tolerance in India, says PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti

Mufti said there is tolerance in India and the scientists, authors and historians returning the awards in protest is the biggest proof of this.

Mehbooba Mufti

Amid the ‘intolerance’ debate, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, a constituent of ruling NDA, on Friday lashed out at those saying “go to Pakistan”, asserting that the “nation owns us and we own the nation”.At the same time, she underlined that there is tolerance in India and compared the situation to countries like Pakistan and Syria where Muslims are killed but “one cannot even open the mouth”. “To those who ask (Muslims) to go to Pakistan, I want to say that the nation owns us and we own the nation,” she said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the debate on the Constitution. Her comments assume significance over the attacks on actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan for their opinion on intolerance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mufti said there is tolerance in India and the scientists, authors and historians returning the awards in protest is the biggest proof of this. “Indian Muslims follow the real Islam. This is also because the Hindu majority (community) is very tolerant. Babasaheb must have taken tolerance from Hinduism. The way Hinduism has the tolerance, perhaps no one has it. The historians, authors and scienitists have been protesting and returning their awards. The way they came out in protest keeps the nation alive.”In Pakistan or Syria even if Muslim is killed one cannot open their mouth,” she said. Referring to the Dadri incident where a Musim man was lynched over rumours of eating beef, she said that in incidents like this and also in the past communal violence like the ones in Meerut, Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots, it was the system that failed, but the people kept the spirit alive.Lauding Ambedkar for his contribution in making the Constitution, she said unlike the present day politicians who think about next election, he thought about future generations while drafting the constitution.

Both sides of the are argument flawed: Why the great secularism debate is a waste of time

The great secularism debate begins all over again. Rest assured, it will take us nowhere. There will be plenty of theoretical drivel from both sides of the secular divide justifying respective positions. And as usual there won’t be a point of convergence. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president set the ball rolling on day one of the winter session; Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take it forward on Friday. The end result is not expected to be dramatic.

There have been two competing narratives of secularism in the country since the days of Independence, one which goes by the generic description of Nehuruvian secularism, and the other is that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Both narratives dig into history for sustenance and both link themselves to the wider issue of nationhood. The difference is one looks at the symmetries in our history, the other at asymmetries. One stresses the assimilative, adaptive and syncretic traits in it, while the other digs out the several conflicts, fault lines and entrenched grievances the other narrative tries to gloss over.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Given the fundamental contradiction in approach, an agreement is impossible. That makes the renewed debate waste of time. The real issue in India is not a singular theoretical description of secularism, but the way it’s actually practiced or sought to be practiced on the ground and its impact on people. That is where political secularism – the way parties look at the subject and go about it — kicks in. Irrespective of how India was or has been through centuries, it’s political considerations that have driven secularism in the country. And it needs elaboration.

The brand of secularism followed by the so called secular parties in the country has been hypocritical at the best and devious at the worst. They have been accused of appeasing the Muslims at the cost of the majority. It’s factually wrong. If it was truly the case, it would reflect in the living standards and other social parameters of the community. The Sachar report offered a stark reminder where they actually stand after six decades. The fact is such parties have only exploited the sense of insecurity among the Muslims and done little to mainstreaming them.

That the Congress – the biggest champion of secularism – has lost the Muslim constituency entirely over the decades is instructive in this context. It’s not clear yet what makes it, and other similar parties, squeamish about criticising Muslim organisations involved in terrorist activities and vocal when Hindu organisation get involved in acts of vandalism. If they are perceived to be anti-Hindu now, it’s a situation of their own making. This secularism is not of the Nehruvian variety by a long stretch.

On the other hand, the brand of secularism the RSS-BJP emphasises on is equally pernicious, if less hypocritical, for the simple reason that there’s too much hate and anger in it. It operates through foot soldiers who give it a completely negative colour through their illiberal, coercive and fundamentally anti-intellectual approach to everything. With excessive accent on Hindutva and the past it appears inherently exclusive and loaded with majoritarian tendencies. Worse, it is yet to develop a precise line of thinking to win over new converts. It would be still be acceptable with its imperfections if it didn’t evoke fear, not only in minorities but also in liberal Hindus.

Both versions of secularism being presented to us are full of flaws. And given the contentious nature of the subject and the political games involved we can hardly expect a meeting point coming out of any debate — remember we are talking of two entirely different readings of history. So why waste time over it?

Firstpost Salon as it happened: Islamic State mentality is already in India, says Tarek Fateh

Nov 26, 2015

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What happens when a vociferous liberal Muslim, who speaks out on issues related to secularism, terrorism and relationship of religion and politics, comes face to face with a former Captain of the Indian Army, who can reel out detail after detail about “lessons” from the Second World War, other battles and even hostage crises—such as the one in Russia’s Beslan, much like a war historian.

Well, you have to wait to find out.

Tarek Fatah, a straight-shooter and a man who finds no virtue in an Islamic State, will be in conversation with former CEO of Natgrid (National Intelligence Grid), a trained Indian Army Captain and a TEDx India regular. One of India’s highest paid technocrats, Raman was recruited by the government to head Natgrid post the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Incidentally, today the tragic incident marks its seventh year.

This report in The Economic Times shared an interesting anecdote about Raman. After reading a paper authored by Raman, a senior officer told his ward jokingly, “Anyone who writes like this is destined to either be a general or be court-martialed.”

Canadian author Tarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLiveCanadian author Tarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLive

Canadian author Tarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLive

Raman had surmised in his paper that the Indian Army adopted a farcical mix of the Nato and Warsaw doctrines; “while the former alignment, equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, would not “cede an inch”, the low-cost-arms-using Warsaw line-up let enemy forces advance until the time was ripe for them to strike back. Raman wrote that India followed the Nato policy with cheap “Warsaw equipment”.”

Fatah has been known to speak on issues of terrorism, the Islamic State, communal intolerance and the compulsion that fuel these movements. This Pakistan-born Canadian author has trekked rugged terrain   and generated controversy along with admiration.

His books, Chasing a mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, are a reflection of a strong personal conviction that the unsaid turns sour if kept that way and has to articulated and discussed and even if it ruffles feathers so be it..

Not many people are endowed with that kind of courage and Fatah, it has to be said, does not provoke for the sake of provocation. His path is one of more prudent debate and logic, ready to take on board every point of view, so far as his is also given an airing.

When Firstpost asked Fatah earlier today why should people come to watch him talk, this is what the secular-liberal had to say:

“They should come and try to figure out if they are sick and tired of politically correct nonsense that you here so often on television channel’s, especially in India. If you want to have a heart to heart conversation with somebody and want to ask or tell me that I’m wrong in saying something, please do come.” 

I never saw myself as a Western or an Indian, but as a Muslim: British-Indian fighter

Abu Baseer

A British fighter of Indian origin in the ranks of al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusrah is the latest casualty from the armed opposition in the conflict in Syria. Known by his nom de guerre of Abu Baseer al Hindi, the fighter was killed in a battle in the coastal Latakia Governarate largely held by the Bashar al Assad led government but partly contested by rebel groups and Syrian armed forces supported by Russia and Iran.The information was recorded on social media where several fighters and supporters of Nusrah wrote about Abu Baseer’s death. The exact details of his death are not known. However, he is believed to have died in the battle for control of Al Zahi mountains in Latakia’s northern countryside. Backed by Russian airforces, over 25 rebels of Nusrah and Free Syrian Army’s 1st Coastal Brigade were killed in the combat. He is the 60th British national to have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Syria.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amarnath Amarsingham, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, Canada has been researching on the phenomenon of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq and had been in touch with Abu Baseer. According to Amarsingham, Abu Baseer had Bachelors degree in sociology and law from UK where he had a normal upbringing in a Muslim family. “He did not seem to me like he was displaced. He was part of more radical Islamic activism in the UK as well. He was quite committed to the idea that jihad, particularly when faced with a situation like we have in Syria, was a religious obligation for him. He needed to go help his brothers and sisters in Syria.’’Amarsingham recalls that Abu Baseer told him that while he was born in UK, he is of an Indian origin. But he said, “I never saw myself as western or Indian. But a Muslim through and through.’’In a video released by his friends from Nusrah shot earlier in the year, Abu Baseer is seen recounting his time on the front-line. Dressed in military fatigues with a mask covering his face and an overgrown beard, he is seen in a pit with his Kalashnikov. In a noticable British accent, he says he is honoured to be here (in Syria) to “defend Muslim blood”. At one point he adds that while attaining shahada (martyrdom) is his dream, on the front-line one can’t be reckless while standing guard to protect the villages of the civilians.Many fighters on Twitter wrote tributes to Abu Baseer for his anti-IS views and for his drive to genuinely help the Muslims. “He left his well-paying job to come to Syria,’’ wrote one.As of now more than 700 British nationals have made this journey. Britain, which is home to a diverse immigrant population from the erstwhile colonies including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, has seen a large number of members of its Muslim community including converts travel to Iraq and Syria to join the militant groups or to live in the Caliphate declared by the Islamic State. One of the influential case of a British Indian origin jihadi is that of Siddharth Dhar who goes by the name of Abu Rumaysah. Dhar a Hindu convert to Islam, jumped bail while facing terror charges and fled UK with his wife, four children to the Islamic State. He later posted a picture of him holding his newborn son and an AK47 with the hashtag #GenerationKhilafah. Dhar last published an e-book called ‘A Brief Guide to the Islamic State’ [2015]’ a kind of tour guide providing details of the life in Caliphate to prospective recruits.

Stirred, not shaken: Get ready for a supercharged evening with Tarek Fatah

It is not often that individuals opt for the rough terrain of what they see as the truth and how it must be told. Tarek Fatah has trekked rugged territory in the pursuit of beliefs and generated controversy along with admiration.

His books, Chasing a mirage; The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, are a reflection of a strong personal conviction that the unsaid turns sour if kept that way and has to articulated and discussed and even if it ruffles feathers so be it..

Not many people are endowed with that kind of courage and Tarek, it has to be said, does not provoke for the sake of provocation. His path is one of more prudent debate and logic, ready to take on board every point of view, so far as his is also given an airing.

Tarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLiveTarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLive

Tarek Fatah. Image courtesy: IBNLive

As with any questioning of the status quo, especially when it comes to the sensitive reams of religion and faith and custom, Tarek makes one uncomfortable and you wonder what it is that motivates someone to put his hand in the fire when most of us are happy enough to sit around it and keep a distance.

The first disarming factor is that there is no imposition or arrogance of opinion that offends you. Ergo, even when it goes against your ‘natural’ instincts (as in what has been taught) you tend to read on and listen on and find yourself at least taking on board some of the nuances.

Much as John Lennon once wrote the lyrics of Imagine and melted boundaries made by Man in his ignorance, Tarek, though by no means lyrical, also tries to seek a future predicated to having no frontiers that divide.

The second door that opens is his ability not to attack or destroy any pillar of faith but to discuss objectively and use the thrust and riposte of debate to make a point. If anything his ability to underscore human failings and weaknesses are signposts to the incorrect interpretations of all religions.

He encourages rather than incites and his favourite subjects deal with Kashmir, Islam, India and Pakistan equations and the terrorist groups which have proliferated.

You may not agree with everything he says neither does he want you to agree. That would be pointless.

What he does is leave you with a few thoughts and a little introspection to be done.

An evening  in his company is a mentally stimulating exercise and the accent on being interactive makes it worth being there.

So be there.

BJP blasts Rahul Gandhi for supporting Aamir Khan, rakes up 1984 to counter intolerance charge

When asked if Aamir will be taken off the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, he said,” That’s not the issue as of now.”

Shahnawaz Hussain

Attacking Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain on Tuesday said there was a “deep political conspiracy” by the Congress to defame the country by harping on an atmosphere of intolerance, after Rahul Gandhi backed the actor’s comments.”Where will Aamir and his family go other than India,” he wondered in response to the actor’s remarks yesterday that his wife Kiran Rao had even suggested that they should probably leave the country. “There is no other better country like India and no better neighbour than a Hindu for an Indian Muslim. What is the situation in Muslim countries and Europe. There is intolerance everywhere,” Hussain, a national spokesperson of the BJP, told a press meet here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India is the most secular state where Muslims enjoy equal rights. In our country, an artist is not judged by his caste and religion but by his art,” he said. Hussain said if Aamir feels the situation is so bad in the country and that he is contemplating to leave, he should convince us. “We are ready to debate,” he added and wondered who is advising the actor. Hussain also took a swipe at the Congress Vice President for coming out in support of Aamir Khan.”This shows Congress complicity in the campaign to malign the country. Congress cannot tolerate an elected government and a popular Prime Minister. When the country is progressing under the leadership of Narendra Modi, Congress is creating an atmosphere to malign the country,” he charged. “Congress is responsible for the massacre of Sikhs and many communal riots. The party should not teach the country about tolerance and intolerance. Aamir Khan should know that this is incredible India and ‘Atulya Bharat’ and one should not do anything to malign the image.”Aamir had gained respect, fame and wealth due to the love and respect of all Indians. When you become a star your comments may get you headlines and good coverage but they are used against the country by the enemies,” he said. Hussain said Aamir’s comments show that he is not scared but was scaring others and the BJP rejects his charge.Further hitting out at the Congress vice president, Hussain said, “Rahul (Gandhi) says government should reach out to people to understand what’s disturbing them. If his father late Rajiv Gandhi had done so, the Sikh massacre would not have taken place. Where is intolerance in India?” He said Aamir is the first person to have spoken about leaving the country and this is not right. It has to be condemned, he said.To a question on whether Aamir should listen to his wife and leave the country, Shahnawaz said BJP does not want to interfere in family matters.When asked if Aamir will be taken off the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, he said,” That’s not the issue as of now.” The BJP spokesman alleged that Congress leaders Mani Shankar Iyer and Salman Khurshid visit Pakistan and berate the Indian government.”Another Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed chooses to highlight religion of some criminals. This is nothing but a dangerous trend to disturb the peace in the country. From opposing the BJP and the BJP government, the Opposition party is now against the country,” he added. To a question on whether India should play cricket with Pakistan on a neutral venue, he said, “The matter is between PCB and BCCI. The issue has not reached the domain of the Central government.”

Tipu Sultan was ‘Aurangzeb’ of south, says pro-RSS mouthpiece

“He was the Aurangzeb of South, who converted lakhs of people forcibly and was responsible for bringing down a large number of temples,” said an article in pro-RSS publication ‘Panchjanya’.

While blaming the BJP as being communal and anti-secular, Siddaramaiah has not hesitated to use the name of Hindu deities to gain political mileage,” it said.

Image Credit: Wikicommons
Highly critical of Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti to “appease” minorities, an article in ‘Panchjanya’ described him as ‘Aurangzeb’ of South who “forcibly” converted lakhs of people.Citing an eminent sage’s advice, articles in ‘Organiser’ suggested that government should steer clear of birth anniversaries of controversial personalities like Tipu and instead celebrate jayantis of Muslim personalities like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sir Mirza Ismail, who was the Dewan of princely Mysore (and later Jaipur and Hyderabad). “Tipu has been a controversial figure. The sole purpose of celebrating Tipu’s jayanti was to polarise Muslim votes. It has triggered heated debate between his sympathisers and those opposing him. “Hindu organisations claim that Tipu was not a secular, but an intolerant and tyrannical ruler. He was the Aurangzeb of South, who converted lakhs of people forcibly and was responsible for bringing down a large number of temples,” said an article in pro-RSS publication ‘Panchjanya’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is a clear political angle as to why the Siddaramaiah government sponsored Tipu Jayanti. It is plain even to the most obtuse mind that it was aimed at wooing the Muslims,” said an article ‘Creating false icons’ in ‘Organiser’, brought out by RSS sympathisers. It was also critical of Siddaramaiah, saying he came to power sidelining hardcore Congress leaders calling himself the champion of the minorities, backward classes and the dalits. “He is the Karnataka version of Mulayam Singh Yadav or Lalu Prasad Yadav. A newcomer to the Congress, he is more of a Janata Dal politician. While blaming the BJP as being communal and anti-secular, Siddaramaiah has not hesitated to use the name of Hindu deities to gain political mileage,” it said.Another article ‘Pseudo tolerance’ in another pro-RSS publication said, “Four precious lives including that of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader were lost in Karnataka, while scores injured as Karnataka Government went ahead with its ‘ambitious’ programme of appeasing the minority community.” It further said,”While people questioned the need to organise the Jayanti for a king known more for his bigotry than tolerance, more for barbarianism than development, the state government had only one agenda — to appease the minority community.”It also said, “Congress, which claims to ‘preach the mantra of tolerance’, failed to understand the pulse of tolerant majority. “The Hindus had requested the government for a holiday on Gowri festival which it rejected. However, the same government had no regrets for loss of lives as the Chief Minister openly defended the action.”The articles said after the violence in Kodagu, Karnataka government should heed the sage advice of the revered Sri Vishveshvara Thirthi Swamiji of Pejawar Math in Udupi that the Government should steer clear of the birth anniversaries of controversial personalities like Tipu. “He suggested that instead it could celebrate the jayantis of great personalities among Muslims such as Maulana Abu Kalam Azad and Sir Mirza Ismail, who was the Dewan of princely Mysore (and later Jaipur and Hyderabad) and is held in high esteem for developing all the three princely States,” it said.Another article said people in several districts of the state stand divided on the issue whether Tipu, 18th century self-styled Mysore Sultan was a “Muslim bigot or a secularist” “What has triggered the debate, which is so far in the hands of half-baked historians and even the unlettered, is the action of the Siddaramaiah-led Congress Government of the state officially sponsoring the 265th birth anniversary of Tipu (1750-1799). “The Government has itself to blame for provoking the people leading to violence in Kodagu District and also some unseemly controversies,” it said.The article suggested that it is better that in future, Karnataka government does not repeat this year’s mistake by celebrating the Jayantis of Tipu or any other personality regarded as a tyrant by the people at large, rather than go by the views of secular historians who are swayed by today’s vitiated politics in the country.

Supreme Court to examine issue of discrimination against Muslim women

The apex court, on being told that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi whose assistance has been sought was not served with the notice, deferred the hearing saying “let it come after three weeks.”

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear after three weeks a PIL, instituted by the court itself, to examine whether Muslim women were facing gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands.The apex court, on being told that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi whose assistance has been sought was not served with the notice, deferred the hearing saying “let it come after three weeks.” The lawyer on behalf of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which was also urged to be made a party, appeared today before the bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, another bench headed by Justice A R Dave had asked the CJI to constitute an “appropriate bench” to examine the question as to whether Muslim women were facing gender discrimination. It had ordered registration of a Public Interest Litigation and putting it up before a new bench to deal with the issues relating to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. It had noted that the issue was not merely a policy matter but concerns the fundamental rights of the women guaranteed under the Constitution.The issue had cropped up during the hearing of a matter related to Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act and the bench had noted that “an important issue of gender discrimination which though not directly involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the counsel for the parties which concerns rights of Muslim women. Discussions on gender discrimination led to this issue also.” The court had said, “it was pointed out that inspite of guarantee of the Constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her.””For this purpose, a PIL be separately registered and put up before the appropriate Bench as per orders of the Chief Justice of India. “Notice be issued to learned Attorney General and National Legal Services Authority, returnable on November 23. We give liberty to counsel already appearing in this matter to assist the Court on this aspect of the matter, if they wish to volunteer, for either view point,” it had added.

‘Little India’ in Malaysia preps up ahead of PM Modi’s visit

The Prime minister, who will be in Malaysia on November 21 to attend the Asean-India and East Asia summit, will inaugurate the Torana (gateway), on Monday.
File Photo
AFP photo
An intricately carved gateway, built at a cost of over USD 1 million and representing hundreds of years of Buddhist and Islamic art forms in India, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ‘Little India’ here during his visit to Malaysia this week.The Prime minister, who will be in Malaysia on November 21 to attend the Asean-India and East Asia summit, will inaugurate the Torana (gateway), on Monday. Thousands of people are expected to throng Brickfields — a suburb in Kuala Lumpur, popularly known as ‘Little India’ — to witness the opening of the massive gateway, which is estimated to cost about 5 million Malaysian Ringgit (USD 1.1 million) to build. The suburb, largely dominated by ethnic Indians, is all spruced up and freshly painted for the visit. The main thoroughfare in Brickfields could be a street from anywhere in Tamil Nadu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the shops here sell Tamil film music, Indian groceries, clothes, saris and idols of Hindu deities. Malaysia’s Deputy Federal Territories Minister Loga Bala Mohan said: “We have started to clean and beautify the area. Notices were issued to the owners to paint their buildings to give them a fresh look.”The Torana Gate is a gift from India to mark the launch of Kuala Lumpur’s Litte India project as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. The project was delayed due to the need to conform the architectural design and features of the massive stone pillar. The intricately carved Torana, inspired by the Toranas of the great Buddhist sculpture of Sanchi, has carvings and relief work representing ancient Indian art as well as the Islamic art form.Kshitij Jain, the chief designer and architect of the Torana, said, “Toranas, built by the great Mauryan dynasty ruler, Ashoka, in first century BC, essentially depict symbols related to Buddhism. There is the Bodhi Tree, the lotus flowers, the jatakas tales and many other such illustrations, but we did not just replicate them as it would not match the inclusivity and acceptance that India stands for. Such detailing on an art form of this scale, involving the two disparate cultures, has perhaps not been done before.”Malaysia is a multi-ethnic Muslim majority country. Besides the majority population of Muslim Malays, the country also has ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian population.

Islam’s name misused for killing innocents: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind condemns Paris attacks

The organisation’s general secretary and former MP, Maulana Mahmood Madani also claimed that Muslims are being unnecessarily attacked and connected with terrorists.
File Image
Reuters
Condemning the terror attack in Paris, Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Tuesday said that Islam’s name is being misused by killing innocent people in name of the religion.The organisation’s general secretary and former MP, Maulana Mahmood Madani also claimed that Muslims are being unnecessarily attacked and connected with terrorists. “It is unfortunate that certain ‘elements’, intentionally or unintentionally attribute these mindless act of violence with Islam and connect terrorists with jihadis. Waging jihad is a positive act intended to root out evils from the society not killing innocent people,” Madani said during a press conference here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is quite obvious that accusing Muslims and holding them responsible for these ghastly killings will no doubt strengthen the deviated radical forces, who in no way represent Islam,” he said. Condemning the terror strikes in Paris, Turkey and Lebanon, Madani said that Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and its affiliate organisations will stage protests tomorrow in various parts of the country.Disagreeing with UP Minister Azam Khan’s remarks that Paris terror attack could be a “reaction” to the “killing of innocents” in Arab countries by the “superpowers”, Madani said that no such “reactions” can be justified and there is not place for any reactions in Islam. The Muslim leader also asked powerful nations to stop providing patronage to terror groups.”Terrorists have spread a painful atmosphere for Muslims across the world and terror activities are being used as a pretext to attack Islam. “Till the time powerful nations stop providing patronage to terror groups, terrorism cannot be eliminated from the world,” he said.

Blow to Janardan Mahto claims, DNA tests say Geeta is not his daughter

Proving his claims to be otherwise, now a DNA test revealed today that Janardan Mahto, a labourer from a Bihar’s Saharsa is not Geeta’s father.

On 20 October, Mahto had left for Delhi after Geeta arrived to India from Pakistan in hopes to meet his daughter, a newswire18 report said. Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman who had been living in Pakistan had accidentally crossed the border over a decade ago. She failed to recognise the family she has identified from photographs.

Geeta in Delhi. PTIGeeta in Delhi. PTI

Geeta in Delhi. PTI

After seeing Geeta on television, Mahto had claimed two months back that Geeta was actually his daughter Hira. Mahto was so confident of his claims that he even readily agreed for a DNA tests.

“I will go for a DNA test before the government will hand her over to me,” Mahto had said earlier according to the news18 report.

Mahto had claimed that “Geeta went missing from Kartarpur near Jalandhar, where she had gone to a ‘Baisakhi mela’ in 2004 when he was working as a labourer in Punjab”.

The story of Geeta, a woman in her early 20s, captivated people in both countries at a time of heightened tension and border clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals.

“It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not, she is a daughter of India and we will take care of her,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told a news conference on 20 October.

Geeta was about 11 when she crossed from India into Pakistan. Exactly how is not clear but Geeta mimes an explosion and shows how she ducked and ran before being caught by armed men.

At first, after she crossed over accidentally Geeta was kept at a children’s home in Lahore, where she was given the Muslim name Fatima.

She would point at maps of India, especially to an area in the south of Jharkhand until she was able to finally communicate she was from India, not Pakistan.

“Geeta stayed with us for 13 years. Now it’s time for her to go home,” said Faisal Edhi last month, son of the founder of Edhi Foundation, a Pakistani charity that looked after the girl.

With IANS & Reuters input

Islamic State won’t have any impact on Muslim youth, but intolerance needs to be curbed: Muslim bodies

New Delhi: A large section of Muslims in the country feel that the global terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) won’t be able to influence Indian Muslim youth with its ideology to unleash attacks on Indian soil like it did in Paris. However, they also feel that the Indian government needs to rein in the rogue elements responsible for creating an atmosphere of intolerance in the country.

“Despite an atmosphere of growing intolerance in India and certain trust deficit amongst minorities, Muslim youths won’t fall into the tarp of IS, al Qaeda or Dawaish. The ideology of al-Qaeda, IS and other terrorist outfits is against Islam, which abhors all kinds of inhuman acts. The IS terrorists were created and sponsored by Zionist state and its western allies to disturb the geographical boundaries of Muslim nations. We strongly condemn the heinous terror attack on innocent citizens in Paris and demand sincere efforts to eliminate the menace,” said Zafrul Islam Khan, president All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella organisation of Muslim bodies, on Monday.

Representative image. AFPRepresentative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

He added that the matter of Indian Muslim youth joining the IS was highly exaggerated and there was no real evidence or figure to corroborate the claim. “It’s the Indian intelligence agencies who are telling big lies, and as a result a large number innocent Muslim youth have been selectively targeted and incarcerated for no fault of theirs. No crime has been proved against them. There should be some independent source or evidence to corroborate such claims. Moreover, the politics of hatred and polarising the voters on the basis of religion need to be stopped,” Khan said.

Coming out strongly against growing Islamic terrorism across the globe and create awareness amongst Indian Muslims as a counter-measure, the Delhi-based Shiite religious organisation, Anjuman-e-Haideri (AEH), has decided to observe 3 December as Anti-Terrorism Day, and the initiative has received support from other Muslim and non-Muslim bodies.

Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, general secretary of AEH said, “On the occasion of Chehlum – the 40th day of martyrdom of Imam Husain – the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, a resolution will be passed in the presence of religious leaders from Shia and Sunni community and other religions as well against the terror activities of the IS and other terrorist outfits. We’ve planned to create mass awareness through public and social media campaign, demonstration, seminars, street plays etc against IS and expose their real face and motives. The aim is to protect vulnerable minds from getting poisoned.”

However, Naqvi said the AEH was unaware why the government didn’t allow them to proceed with their anti-terrorism movement.
“We were the first in India to openly come out by opposing the IS activities in Iraq and Syria, and we conducted a signature campaign, whereby more than two lakh people voluntarily joined our movement. Terrorism can’t be countered with bullets alone; there is a need to educate people about the menace of terrorism. The Iraqi Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki appreciated our efforts; but despite that Indian government didn’t allow us to proceed. It seems there are a few people within the government, who do not want that any action should be initiated against the IS,” claimed Naqvi.

In November last year, Maulana Kalbe Jawad, a prominent Shia cleric and general secretary of Majlis-e-Ulema-e-Hind, along with five other members, was prevented from taking flight to Baghdad after a Look-out Circular was issued against him. He was going to Baghdad to have a discussion for the release of 40 Sikhs held captive by the IS.

Senior counsel Mehmood Pracha, also a part of the AEH campaign, said, “Maulana Jawad was on a humanitarian mission, when he was off-loaded. This action of the government of preventing us to go ahead with our peaceful anti-terrorism campaign, would positively make it difficult for us. As, the world has become a global village, especially due to the social media, and boundaries are getting erased, it can’t be said that Indian youth will remain untouched from the influence of IS.

“And, that’s why we want a massive campaign to make Indian Muslim youth aware of the evil motive of these terror outfits. We don’t support any Muslim organisation, body or political outfit that supports terrorism. Despite knowing that our movement will have repercussions on our volunteers as their lives are at risk, we would observe 3 December as anti-terrorism day and work towards uprooting terrorism.”

Why was Paris targeted?

Terrorism has now become a global phenomenon and is no longer confined to the poor and developing countries in the East.

In the wake of the terrorist attack in France, India has to be wary and take conscious efforts to tackle the issue. However, it is almost impossible to fight the battle single-handed, and the Paris attack has laid the ground for an alliance with Europe and the USA.Terrorism has now become a global phenomenon and is no longer confined to the poor and developing countries in the East. It has spread to the European and other influential States as well. We can no longer avoid the Islamic State, as it is not just an organisation but has become a full fledged State that has occupied about 35% of Iraq and Syria.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are three immediate reasons for the attack in Paris, that I would like to put forth. The first being political and security reason: France is a part of the coalition against Islamic State, a member of the NATO force. This is the second attack on the country this year, after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. France is thus on the radar and hit list of the ISIS.Socio-economic factors too can be cited as an important reason for the attacks. France has taken a very generous stand as far as the immigrants from Gulf countries are concerned. As a result, a large portion of population in France comprises of the Muslims. However, France has failed to assimilate the immigrants in the mainstream socio-economic process of the country. The economic recession in France for the past three to four years has had devastating effect on the minority population. The immigrants, who are largely wage labourers, have lost their jobs and due to unemployment, have fallen prey to the Islamic State propaganda.Also, when we look at the demographic structure of Paris, the concentration of Muslims is in the ghettos, that have developed in the isolated outer parts of the city. Indoctrination spreads very fast in these areas and the population is polarised. There have been incidences of communal violence in the past as well.The third and a very important aspect is the literary aspect. An increasing number of books being published in French are creating an Islam phobia. For example, according to a book called ‘The Submission’, in 10 years, France will witness a Muslim President or a Prime Minister, if the trend of immigrant domination continues. Islam is thus being projected as a threat to France, and a suspicious attitude has been developed towards the Muslim population. Consequently, the minority feels alienated and neglected giving rise to a social polarisation.In spite of all this, Europe and the United States have not been able to identify their real enemies. They are in a dilemma about their security policies towards West Asia. They have been targeting the Syrian head instead of the Islamic State. Additionally, the United Nation has failed in establishing a common front on the issue. There is a lack of consensus on the issue of terrorism and collective action is needed against those nations who are aiding and abetting the ISIS. India has been voicing this concern for a long time now and it is high time that India’s voice be recognised, and the member-states work hand in glove to combat terrorism.—as told to dna correspondent The author is a foreign policy analyst

Gujarat riots debate rages again as PM Modi lands in London, but why is it we don’t talk about the lives that were saved?

By Kartikeya Tanna

The logical starting point of any discourse on the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat almost always refers to the number of lives lost, indeed, rightly so. The mindless violence, which erupted as a response to the gruesome burning of innocent karsevaks (volunteers) and their families inside a locked bogey of a train near Godhra on 27 February, 2002, took over 1000 lives in different parts of Gujarat.

That the riots were horrific is not in question. Numerous columns, op-eds and reports have analysed how the state machinery got overwhelmed with swelling mobs in areas which did not historically see communal disharmony. This discourse is once again dominating the air waves as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to land in London for a three-day visit to the UK.

Smoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire in Godhra on 27 February, 2002. ReutersSmoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire in Godhra on 27 February, 2002. Reuters

Smoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire in Godhra on 27 February, 2002. Reuters

As is always the case, identification of causes for these riots has been varied. Some have blamed top echelons in the then administration including the then chief minister, Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister, for not doing enough to stop the violence or, worse, for giving orders to the state machinery to not come in the way of Hindus taking Muslim lives. That the last narrative, one accompanied by flowery adjectives such as genocide and mass murder, is a figment of a fertile imagination has been established in more than one forum.

What, however, has not received due focus is the other side of the riots coin – how many lives were saved due to action by an admittedly ill-prepared machinery, a legacy which Modi inherited, with help from the military frantically called in to overcome the sheer might of madness.

Indeed, quantification of number of lives saved does not benefit from the same precision as that of the number of lives lost. However, media reports and anecdotes during those riots provide a very compelling idea of the underlying intent of those in power to do whatever they could to minimise loss of lives.

Firstly, from among those burnt alive in Godhra, a sizeable number included hapless women and children. To say that those inclined to riot in the following days were seething with a volcano of anger would be an understatement.

What did Modi directly do? He issued shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra on the very same morning that the karsevaks were burnt alive, followed by similar orders across Gujarat. Figures provided by the then Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha establish that implementation of these direct orders saw the police firing around 2,000 rounds killing 98 rioters within the first three days of the riots and preventing several more from further rioting. Another consequence of implementation of Modi’s direct orders was that 827 people were arrested throughout Gujarat as a preventive measure.

The then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia is quoted by The Guardian as stating that the police force of Godhra, in particular, was given specific instructions to arrange special security cover for the Muslim population given chances of retaliation. Godhra has had a long history of communal tension including in the days of India’s freedom struggle.

There has also been an utterly dishonest insinuation that the administration deliberately delayed in calling the military. Far from that, Modi requested for the army on the very first day of the riots as several media reports stated and by noon the next day, the army did a flag march in Ahmedabad.

Not only that, when the central government initially informed Modi of the unavailability of armed forces (they were stationed in the border areas following tensions with Pakistan), Modi requested the Centre to send junior personnel “as long as they have army uniforms” to do an immediate march, a practice often followed to quell the rioters. This anecdote is mentioned in Chapter 7 in Andy Marino’s book Narendra Modi: A Political Biography.

These preliminary steps — few of the several taken by the administration — are vital in laying the ground for trying to get a sense of the number of lives potentially saved by the Narendra Modi government.

In Naroda Patiya, an area which has seen high profile convictions of former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi (although the former’s sentence has been suspended with the HC observing puzzling aspects in her conviction), the police saved 400 lives by taking them to safer places including the State Reserve Police headquarters.

In Gulbarga Society, where former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed, the police shot dead five persons saving the lives of 180 people. The mob around the neighbourhood had swelled to almost 10,000. It is important to remember that the total size of the police force in Ahmedabad was around 6,000. Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, had, in fact, recorded a statement to the police under the criminal procedure code that the police saved her and many others.

The 180 number is arrived at by deducting the number of lives killed (69) from the number of people in that area (250). And, ironically, the person arrested by the SC-appointed SIT for Jafri’s murder is Congress MLA Meghsingh Chaudhary.

In Sanjel village in the largely tribal Dahod district, a mob of 8,000 armed tribals gathered to kill Muslims. Police intervention saved around 2,500 lives in that town. In Bodeli town in the Chotta-Udepur area, despite the advance of 7,000 armed tribals, the police were able to save hundreds. Vadodara District Collector Bhagyesh Jha and other officers were fired upon by tribals as they tried to rescue the trapped Muslims.

In Viramgam, thousands of Muslims and Hindus went on a rampage after a horrific incident of a Muslim woman being burnt alive. Fifteen thousand rioters encircled the town and started targeting Muslim localities. As India Today reports, it took some deft handling by the police and army to save the day.

At a madarsa in Bhavnagar, despite rumours spread by a TV channel that an associate of a terror-accused had been a student there, the Modi administration’s timely action ensured that between 400 and 500 students including some maulvis were saved. This is highlighted in the SC-appointed SIT’s report on page 436.

Several other instances come to light when analysing how government action saved the mindless violence from spreading further. An estimated 5,000 people were saved from the Noorani Mosque area, 240 from Sardarpura of Mehsana district, 450 in two villages of Gandhinagar district, 1,500 from Fatehpura village of Vadodara district and around 3,000 saved from Kwant village.

There are several other instances of swayamsevaks of the cultural organisation RSS (which many BJP leaders including PM Modi have been members of) rescuing fellow Muslim brethren from the insanity which prevailed in Gujarat.

As the SC-appointed SIT report notes on Page 429, Modi’s direct instructions to provide maximum security to Muslims returning from Haj pilgrimage just a week after the riots erupted ensured there was no untoward incident. Also, later that month, Muslims in Gujarat could carry out Moharram processions (Qatal ki raat) bereft of any communal tensions. If the government had intentions ascribed to it, these instances provided it the perfect opportunity.

Indeed, none of this is to say that the 2002 riots did not witness a breakdown of law and order machinery. Even amidst that breakdown — outcome of a terribly ill-equipped police force both in terms of numbers and weaponry — the administration could restore normalcy relatively compared to other ghastly riots in India and save numerous lives with the help of an expeditiously called in army.

Facts establish that, far from being complicit in letting Muslims die during riots or, worse, ordering the killings of Muslims, the top echelon of the then Narendra Modi government managed to save thousands of lives with whatever little it had in its arsenal against maddening passion. If the 2002 riots are to be looked at holistically, this aspect, hitherto swept under the carpet, deserves equally vigorous debates.

(Inputs from Closure report of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and an excellently compiled book titled Gujarat Riots: The True Story by MD Deshpande who also runs a website to provide the truth of the riots)

Protests and a high profile death mar plans for Modi’s London visit

Human rights activists and several socio-religious forums are campaigning to stage huge protests at Downing Street and Wembley to mar the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

A massive projection of Narendra Modi holding a sword in one hand and a shield with the ‘Om’ symbol with a swastika superimposed appeared on the Houses of Parliament next to the iconic Big Ben

The Awaaz Network is spearheading the protest. Others joining the ‘Modi Not Welcome’ team are South Asia Solidarity Group, Sikh Federation UK, Southall Black Sisters, Dalit Solidarity Network UK, Indian Muslim Federation, Indian Workers Association, Muslim Parliament, and Voice of Dalit International.

The c

What the protesters projected onto the houses of Parliament in London. Image courttesy: TwitterWhat the protesters projected onto the houses of Parliament in London. Image courttesy: Twitter

What the protesters projected onto the houses of Parliament in London. Image courttesy: Twitter

ds “Modi not welcome” onto the Houses of Parliament building on Sunday in a bold show of protest against Modi. The projection showed Modi wielding a sword in front of “an OM sign that is tragically being transferred to a swastika.”

“[Narendra Modi] wants to sell the idea of a ‘Digital India’, a ‘clean India’ and a developed and self-sufficient India,” a spokesperson for the Awaaz Network said. “The reality is the unleashing of a violence packed authoritarian agenda that seeks to undermine India’s democratic and secular fabric.”

The visit is seen as an opportunity to help “break down the wall between the Indian state and many Sikhs outside India”, the Sikh Human Rights Group said.

It has sent five proposals to New Delhi, including abolishing ‘blacklists’ of Sikhs living abroad who cannot travel to India, release of prisoners held for political reasons, and a dialogue between the Indian government and Sikhs based abroad.

Scotland Yard was meanwhile placing a ‘policing plan’ to deal with protests. There is some concern in official circles about the security aspect of Modi’s visit, after a Sikh demonstration at the Indian high commission last week led to some violence and traffic jams in central London for some hours.

At the same time Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wants Britain to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week, but also to use the occasion to question him on recent events in India that have caused some concern about tolerance.

Speaking at the London School of Economics at a launch event for his book, ‘The Country of First Boys’, Sen said he voted against Modi but he did not expect the situation to take “such naked a form as it has taken” under his government,

High profile Indians were diverting from the planning for the visit by the death of Lord Swaraj Paul’s son from a mysterious fall from his penthouse in central London. Angad Paul fell eight storeys, landing on the roof of a building below where his body was spotted by horrified onlookers. Paul was educated at MIT, where he gained degrees in Economics and Media Arts and Sciences. Firefighters were called to lead the operation to get him down and paramedics pronounced the 45-year-old dead at the scene in central London.

Bihar elections 2015: Jitan Ram Manjhi pins blame on Mohan Bhagwat for debacle

“People got wrong impression from the message from such comments as Lalu ji and Nitish ji have an expertise in making a non-issue an issue,” he added.

Bhagwat said that the policy of reservation should be reviewed in an interview with the RSS mouthpiece.

Peeved over humiliating defeat in Bihar Assembly polls, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday said the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark on reservation came at wrong time. “We are yet to discuss the cause of defeat in the Bihar polls, but in a broader view we find that the extreme backwards, the backwards and the Muslim community have voted for the Grand Alliance. Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on reservations were not wrong, but election was not the right time to make them,” Manjhi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People got wrong impression from the message from such comments as Lalu ji and Nitish ji have an expertise in making a non-issue an issue,” he added. Manjhi also said that RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav met the people of the backward community and convinced them that if the NDA came to power they would be denied their reservation. “Similarly the beef remark on who eats the cow meat and who doesn?t, and statements like ‘crackers will burst in Pakistan’ were unnecessary and untimely,” he added. Many commentators and political analysts believe that the aggressive campaign rhetoric of the party as well as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat?s recent comments on reservation damaged the party?s chances in Bihar.Bhagwat said that the policy of reservation should be reviewed in an interview with the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser and Panchjanya. “We believe, form a committee of people genuinely concerned in the interest of the whole nation and committed for social equality, including some representatives from the society, they should decide which categories require reservation and for how long,” Bhagwat had said. “The non-political committee like autonomous commissions should be the implementing authority; political authorities should supervise them for honesty and integrity,” he also added.

Court refuses bail to Sadhvi Pragya in 2008 Malegaon blast case

Twelve persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Purohit, were arrested for carrying out a blast at Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008, killing six persons and injuring 100 others.

Sadhvi Pragya
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dna Research & Archives
The special court for Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act cases on Saturday rejected the bail application of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.Sadhvi had moved the application last month on the ground that she was suffering from breast cancer. However, special NIA prosecutor Avinash Rasal argued that she was getting proper medical treatment at government hospitals while in judicial custody. She owned the motorcycle used to plant the bomb and there was no evidence that it had been sold to anyone else at the time of the crime, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recently, the court also rejected the bail pleas of Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Dyanand Pandey alias Swami Amritanand Dev, Rakesh Dhawade and Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, all co-accused in the case.Twelve persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Purohit, were arrested for carrying out a blast at Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008, killing six persons and injuring 100 others. The accused have been booked under stringent MCOCA, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC.Following a Supreme Court order, a special court has been constituted to exclusively hear the case. Sadhvi is also an accused in the case related to the murder of RSS activist Sunil Joshi in Madhya Pradesh.

Sena slams ‘double-faced’ Maharashtra government over Ghulam Ali, Shah Rukh Khan row

While the editorial criticised Khan for his ‘outrageous advocacy’, saying he often dips in ‘whirlpool of controversies’, they also strongly condemned the verbal attack on him.

Training their guns yet again on the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra Government, the Shiv Sena on Friday attacked the Chief Minister for having a ‘double-faced’ policy saying Pakistan maestro Ghulam Ali was being warmly welcomed but on the other hand Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan was being told to go to the hostile neighbour.”On one side the Chief Minister invites Ghulam Ali from Pakistan, saying they would be providing full security to him and on the other hand they order Shah Rukh Khan to go to Pakistan. This is double faced politics that is going on”, The Shiv Sena said in their mouthpiece Saamna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the editorial criticised Khan for his ‘outrageous advocacy’, saying he often dips in ‘whirlpool of controversies’, they also strongly condemned the verbal attack on him.”Targeting him because he is a Muslim and telling him to go to Pakistan is unfair,” it added.”Hafiz Saeed and many like him are trying to create a divide between the Muslim community in India and strong steps should be taken to stop it. The politicians should not criticise Khan over the debate of intolerance,” the editorial said.Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had earlier slammed the actor saying he ‘lives in India but his soul is in Pakistan’.However, after facing national flak for his controversial statement, Vijayvargiya retracted his statement saying he had been misquoted and that he had not intended to ‘hurt any sentiments’ with his remark.BJP MP Yogi Adityanath also raised a furore after comparing Khan to 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, and said he is ‘welcome’ to go to Pakistan.

Quran is being misinterpreted by Muslim men to have more than one wife, says Gujarat HC

The petitioner, Jafar Abbas Merchant, had approached the high court to quash an FIR against him filed by his wife who alleged that he got married to another woman without her consent.

In a strongly-worded order, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday said the Quran was being misinterpreted by Muslim men to have more than one wife and the provision of polygamy was being misused by them for “selfish reasons”. The high court also stated that time has come for the country to embrace the uniform civil code as such provisions are in violation of the Constitution.Justice J B Pardiwala made these observations while pronouncing the order related to section 494 of IPC, which deals with punishment for having more than one wife. The petitioner, Jafar Abbas Merchant, had approached the high court to quash an FIR against him filed by his wife who alleged that he got married to another woman without her consent.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the FIR, she invoked section 494 of IPC (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) against Jafar. In his plea, Jafar, however, claimed that the Muslim Personal Law allows Muslim men to marry four times and hence the FIR against him does not stand legal scrutiny.In the order, Pardiwala noted “the Quran is being misinterpreted by Muslim men to have more than one wife.””When the Quran allowed polygamy, it was for a fair reason. When men use that provision today, they do it for a selfish reason. Polygamy finds mention in the Quran only once, and it is about conditional polygamy,” the order said.”Muslim Personal Law does not permit a Muslim to treat one wife cruelly, drive her out of the matrimonial home and then get married for the second time. However, there is no law in this country which takes care of this situation. There is no uniform civil code in this country,” it said.The high court put the onus on the government to do the needful with regards to the uniform civil code.”On the basis of modern, progressive thinking, India must shun the practice and establish uniform civil code,” stated the judgment.The court further observed that the permission to have four wives under Muslim Personal Law violates Constitutional provisions.”Polygamy and the unilateral talaq without the wife’s consent offends Article 14 (equality before law for all) and Article 15 (the state’s non discrimination on grounds of caste, religion, sex, etc). If the state tolerates this law, it becomes an accomplice in the discrimination of the female, which is illegal under its own laws,” the court in its order.While mentioning several verses of the Quran as well as statements of noted scholars, the HC said “it is abundantly clear that notwithstanding there is no codification by the legislation of marriages amongst the Muslims, polygamy is not encouraged and is an exception and not a rule. It is not the fundamental right of a Muslim to have four wives.”The court also gave a verdict in favour of Jafar and removed section 494 from the FIR, as being a Muslim, he is governed by the Muslim Personal Law, which allows him to have more than one wife, and not under the IPC.”In view of the above, so far as the offence punishable under Section 494 of IPC is concerned, I am left with no other option but to accept the submission that Jafar cannot be prosecuted for the offence punishable under Section 494 of IPC. To this extent, the petition will have to be allowed and is, accordingly, allowed,” stated the order.

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi up for realignment of political forces to fight BJP

BJP had emerged the largest winner in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections winning 7 seats out of 14 in Assam. AIUDF, led by perfume baron Badaruddin Azmal, which espouses the causes of mainly Muslim minorities, won two seats in lower Assam and one seat in Barak valley in the last year’s Lok Sabha elections.

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With Assembly polls only a few months away, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi favours a realignment of political forces, including the AIUDF, to fight the BJP on a single platform.Cautious about the difficult possibility of bringing the parties like CPI, CPI-M, AIUDF and Bodoland People’s Front together, he says it should not be viewed as a poll alliance but a grouping of forces joining hands to tackle communalism.”There is no such possibility (of an alliance) but I appeal to all political forces like the CPI, CPI-M, BPF and even the AIUDF to join hands against divisive forces trying to create trouble in the country,” Gogoi told PTI interview.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP had emerged the largest winner in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections winning 7 seats out of 14 in Assam. AIUDF, led by perfume baron Badaruddin Azmal, which espouses the causes of mainly Muslim minorities, won two seats in lower Assam and one seat in Barak valley in the last year’s Lok Sabha elections.”This should not be viewed as a poll alliance but is aimed at tackling communalism which is destroying the secular fabric of the country,” he said.Gogoi, however, said such a possibility is “very thin” but he will continue to try to bring all forces against communalism together.In 2011 Assembly polls, Congress won 68 seats out of the 126 constituencies while AIUDF bagged 18 seats. BJP won 15 seats, BPF bagged 12 and AGP got 10, TMC one and Independent two.In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won 3 seats while one won by an Independent.Gogoi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “fast losing his popularity” and the BJP has ‘bleak prospects’ in the state assembly polls scheduled next year.”Modi’s popularity is fast waning and the results of assembly elections in different states even during the party’s honeymoon period is (going to be) an indication that people are losing their faith in him,” he said.Gogoi said the “aggressive manner” in which Modi campaigned in Bihar clearly indicates that the party is facing tough time and is not at all confident about its prospects even though they are in power at the Centre and had won huge mandate in the last Lok Sabha polls in the state,” he said.Besides, it had lost in Uttarakhand and had failed to get a majority in Maharashtra.In Assam, the BJP has very “bleak prospects as it has no base and there is no credible leader,” he said.”BJP is importing leaders from all other parties like the Congress, AGP, student organisations like the AASU and even militants having NIA cases pending against them have joined hands with them,” he said.The Congress prospects were “very good” and he was sure the party would form the next government after the assembly polls scheduled next year, Gogoi said.Gogoi alleged that contrary to BJP government’s claim of ushering in development, the situation in the North East has deteriorated.”There is no cooperation by the BJP government though Modi and his Ministers are good to me and continue to give me assurances but they do nothing,” he said.The BJP government at the Centre has withdrawn the special category status to the North Eastern states and has not even “released the funds due to us”.”Leave alone additional funds required for the development of the state, they are not giving what is due to us. As a result, development of the region has received a setback,” he said.Non-release of adequate funds has ultimately resulted in lack of employment opportunities for the youths which will in the long run affect the socio-economic development of the state, he said.The Centre has also withheld various incentives due to the region and as a result it has become “difficult to attract investors to the region”.The Modi government has made a “U-turn” on all the pre-poll promises like bringing back black money to the country, land deal with Bangladesh and construction of dam on the Subansiri, he said.”They are good to me personally but I want result. I do not want anything personally but what I want them to be good to the people of Assam and work in their interest,” Gogoi added.

Shah Rukh Khan row: Yogi Adityanath is BJP’s Digvijaya Singh, says Anupam Kher

He further added, “Shahrukh Khan is a true Indian who loves his country and the country loves him. Yogi Adityanath’s remark is unfortunate & cheap.”

Anupam Kher has come out in support of his “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” co-star Shah Rukh Khan after Yogi Adityanath compared the Bollywood superstar with Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed for his comments over intolerance in India.Speaking to ANI, Anupam Kher said, “Yogi Adityanath is BJP’s Digvijaya Singh.”He further added, “Shahrukh Khan is a true Indian who loves his country and the country loves him. Yogi Adityanath’s remark is unfortunate & cheap.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day ago, Kher, 60, took to Twitter to blast the controversial statements made by some of the BJP leaders against Shah Rukh.Also read: Shah Rukh Khan row: Minority Affairs Minister Heptulla defends BJP party members’ comments”Some members of the BJP really need to control their tongue & stop talking rubbish about @iamsrk. He is a national icon & We r PROUD of him,” he had tweeted.Hitting out at Shah Rukh two days after the actor added his voice to the protest by the intelligentsia against the ‘climate of intolerance’, Adityanath also suggested that the actor should go to Pakistan.In another controversial remark, the Gorakhpur MP said Shah Rukh should remember that if a “huge mass” of people in the country would boycott his films then he would also have to wander on streets like a “normal Muslim”.Also read: Manufactured protest? BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi says Shah Rukh Khan started noticing intolerance after ED noticeThe controversy started with senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s series of tweets yesterday where he painted Shah Rukh as an “anti-nationalist” and said that the actor’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India.Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi yesterday termed the 50-year-old actor a “Pakistani agent”.However, even as he came under attack from sections in BJP, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan received support from ruling ally Shiv Sena which said the superstar should not be targeted only because he is a Muslim and that the minority community in India is “tolerant”.”This country is tolerant and the Muslims are tolerant as well. Shah Rukh Khan should not be targeted only because he is a Muslim,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.

Calling PM Modi victim of intolerance will give him fullest justification for being vengeful: Arun Shourie

Referring to Sharma’s controversial comments on former President Abdul Kalam being a nationalist despite being a Muslim, he said allotting him the house in which Kalam lived was like “spitting in the face of people”.

“PM Modi has to set moral standards,” he said.

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Former Union Minister Arun Shourie on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of deliberately maintaining silence on incidents like Dadri lynching while his ministerial and party colleagues kept the issue “alive” merely to win Bihar elections. He also agreed with the suggestion that Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were pitting one community against another in Bihar and cited a Pakistani analyst to say that while the neighbouring country was trying to get out of the pit, India was slowly going down its way.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The former BJP insider attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s defence of Modi that he was the worst victim of intolerance since 2002, saying this was the worst defence he had heard and Modi “in his mind will get the fullest justification for being vengeful”. Coming out in support of writers, authors and artistes returning their awards against the “climate of intolerance”, he told Karan Thapar on India Today channel that they are “conscience-keepers” of the country and their motives cannot be questioned.Praising scientists like PM Bhargava and Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, who have expressed concern over these incidents, Shourie questioned how these people can be called rabid, a term used by Jaitley. These people have contributed immensely to the country and those who attacked them have not read a book in the last 20 years. “Those who cannot write two paragraphs are sitting in judgement over writers.” Rejecting BJP leaders’ oft-repeated statements that the Prime Minister cannot be expected to speak on any and every issue, Shourie said he was exactly doing that and not speaking on issues he should. “Prime Minister is not a section officer of the homoeopathy department. He is not head of a department. He is the Prime Minister. He has to show the country the moral path. He has to set moral standards,” he said. Shourie referred to Modi’s tweets on issues like Union Minister Mahesh Sharma’s birthday soon after Dadri lynching James Cameron’s birthday, the stampede in Mecca and the blast in Ankara. “But he kept silent on the Dadri incident and incidents like killing of two Dalit children (in Haryana) while his men. He is keeping silent while his party colleagues and ministers are keeping the issue alive,” he said, asserting that Modi’s silence was more deliberate than ignoring them. Asked if Modi’s silence was political, he said “I think so”. “You can’t have it both ways. You are a very strong leader but cannot control your members.”Referring to Sharma’s controversial comments on former President Abdul Kalam being a nationalist despite being a Muslim, he said allotting him the house in which Kalam lived was like “spitting in the face of people”. “This is really symbolic.” To a question, he said it was all intended to win Bihar elections at any cost. Modi does not realise the consequences of his silence and this fire will not only burn him but the whole country, he said, adding these issues will strain the social fabric of the country.With his speeches in Bihar in which he accused grand alliance leaders of plotting to steal the quota for OBCs, SCs and STs and hand it over to Muslims, Modi had lowered himself to the level of Lalu Prasad while Nitish Kumar looked like a statesman, Shourie said. He also rejected Shah’s statement that crackers will be burst in Pakistan if BJP loses in Bihar and said in fact things were different now. In this context he quoted a Pakistani analyst to say crackers were already being burst there as Modi was the best thing to have happened to it.Referring to the killing of a Kashmiri truck driver in the Jammu region on suspicion of cow smuggling, Shourie said unnecessarily such incidents gave a handle to secessionists.

Supreme Court provides relief to Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma in 1997 land scam case

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma will not be made an accused in the 1997 Kailash Hospital land scam case, the Supreme Court has said.

Mahesh Sharma

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma will not be made an accused in the 1997 Kailash Hospital land scam case, the Supreme Court has said.According to ANI, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition against Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma challenging his acquittal from the case in 2010.Mahesh Sharma, then chairman of the Kailash Hospital in Noida, had been acquitted by the Allahabad HC. Along with him, Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Neera Yadav had also been granted bail.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Allahabad High Court had in December 2010 granted bail to Neera Yadav and industrialist Ashok Chaturvedi in another land scam case. The duo had been sentenced to imprisonment just a week prior to being given bail.A 1971 batch IAS officer, Yadav was chief secretary during the chief ministership of Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. She had earned the dubious distinction of being the country’s first IAS officer to be removed from the chief secretary’s post by the Supreme Court on charges of corruption in 2005.The Culture Minister for his part has been embroiled in controversy after controversy. Most recently, he has been allotted the vacant bungalow belonging to the late ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam, who he had once called a ‘patriot despite being a Muslim’. Related Read: Mahesh Sharma gets APJ Abdul Kalam’s bungalow after calling him a ‘nationalist despite being Muslim’

President Pranab Mukherjee again calls for preserving plural character of India

“Multiplicity is our collective strength which must be preserved at all costs. It finds reflection in the various provisions of our Constitution,” Mukherjee said.

The President’s appeals came against the backdrop of lynching incident in Dadri in which a Muslim was killed on suspicion of eating beef.

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President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday once again called for preserving the multiplicity and pluralistic character of the country and said India has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. The President, who had on a number of occasions spoken against growing intolerance in the last three weeks, was speaking at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Delhi High Court here. “Our country has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. Our pluralistic character has stood the test of time. Our ancient civilisation has over the centuries accommodated our diversities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Multiplicity is our collective strength which must be preserved at all costs. It finds reflection in the various provisions of our Constitution,” Mukherjee said at the function which was attended by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, Lt Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.In the wake of the Dadri lynching and subsequent incidents, the President had asked a question whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane in the country during a function at his home town at Suri in West Bengal on October 19. This was followed by an appeal to people for practising tolerance and to accept differences while respecting dissent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also endorsed the President’s remarks and asked people to ignore rabble rousing by leaders and fringe elements.The President’s appeals came against the backdrop of lynching incident in Dadri in which a Muslim was killed on suspicion of eating beef, and a string of incidents like the one in Mumbai where BJP ally Shiv Sena forced cancellation of a music concert by Pakistani legend Ghulam Ali and talks between Indian and Pakistani cricket board Chiefs and blackened the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni.The killing of a truck conductor in Udhampur and a man in Himachal Pradesh on suspicion of cow smuggling for slaughter have also raised political temperature in the country that had triggered controversial statements by some BJP leaders.

Kerala civic body elections: this time, it does feel different with BJP in the box with Cong & LDF

Local body elections in Kerala are due on 2 November, and as I write this, campaigning is in full swing. Even though we have had a damp month or two – normally, after Onam, there is bright sunshine, but this year September and October have been rainy – there is a lot of energy on the streets. Every corner, it seems, hosts a small election meeting when I drive home after work, and you have loud, earnest-looking men (and a few women) proclaiming loudly that their party is the one you must vote for.

Kerala is obviously highly politicised and highly polarised. In years past, it has generally alternated between the Congress and the Marxists in the Assembly elections (which are due shortly), and it votes contrary to national trends. But the next Assembly election might be a watershed, and the local body elections will give the best predictions — this is truly a semi-final, and therefore observers are keenly watching what happens.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTICongress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTI

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. PTI

Shashi Tharoor, MP, who has been busy campaigning for Congress candidates in Thiruvananthapuram and vicinity, feels his party is going to win in a landslide. He thinks that the BJP will be a damp squib.

Of course, Tharoor is a good observer of the political scene and has his ear to the ground. He may well be right. But the key is in his observation about the BJP. For, after having been an also-ran, and never having won a single seat in the Kerala Assembly ever, the BJP is now on the verge of becoming a force to reckon with in Kerala. They cannot be written off any more.

When the dust settles, it may remain a duopoly between the Congress’ UDF and the Marxists’ LDF, and these two parties may well remain the ones in power. But the fact is that the BJP is making both of them rethink the electoral calculus. And the BJP may or may not be satisfied with being the swing bloc that decides which of these two alliances forms the next government. They may ask for their pound of flesh.

Despite much talk about the political maturity of the Kerala voter, my sense is that the place remains mired in considerations of religion and jati. It is quite possibly the most communal part of the country, but people are clever enough to hide it in conversations, especially with observers. Covert communalism, on the other hand, is widespread.

It is a peculiar setup, where, according to the 2011 Census, 54 percent are Hindus, 27 percent Muslims, and 18 percent Christians, although the reality is that a lot of the Hindus are Communists, and there is over-counting of Hindus due to large-scale conversions, so the actual Hindu vote is lower. Among the Hindus, there are several groups: Ezhava (OBC) 20 percent, Nair (FC) 13 percent, Pulaya (SC) 2 percent, and so forth.

Almost all these groups tend to vote in blocs. Thus the Congress has traditional voters concentrated among Christians and Nairs; the Muslim League, Muslims; and the Marxist vote has been dominated by Ezhavas. This pattern has been stable for a long time and may account for the razor-thin margins by which candidates win.

There are also regional imbalances. Northern Kerala (Malabar) is dominated by Muslims; Central Kerala by Christians, and Southern Kerala by Hindus in terms of numbers and influence.

This stable equilibrium has been disrupted by two things this year: a Hindu consolidation contemporaneous with the arrival of Narendra Modi on the national stage and the estrangement of the Ezhavas from the Marxists.

There has traditionally been bad blood between the numerically dominant Hindu groups, the Ezhavas and the Nairs – and they generally have not voted for or with each other. The result has been that a consolidated Hindu vote never emerged, whereas there are dependable Christian and Muslim votebanks.

This year, two things happened: the BJP’s Kerala cadres are working towards a united Hindu vote. In fact, most of their collateral seemed to have a triumvirate of 19th century leaders, thus symbolising a pan-Hindu movement. From the Ezhavas, Sree Narayana Guru; from the Nairs, Chattampi Swamikal, and from the Pulayas, Ayyankali. It is widely believed that such a positioning will bear fruit for the BJP.

The Ezhava organisation, Sree Narayana Darma Paripalana Yogam, has been in the forefront of this consolidation, with its leader Vellappally Natesan hobnobbing with the BJP. This will hurt the Marxists and there is a non-trivial possibility they will be routed.

The Nair Service Society demurs, and prefers the Congress, but it appears individual Nairs are being attracted to the BJP, thus hurting the Congress.

The Pulaya Mahasabha has also been openly supportive of the BJP, reasoning perhaps that as an OBC, Modi is more sympathetic to their needs.

Thus the situation is fluid. Tharoor may be right: the Congress, with its trusty Christian votebank, may not be affected very much. But they will face anti-incumbency, especially because of big scams. Just today as I write this, a Vigilance Court startled them by declaring their sitting Finance Minister would be investigated in a large and contentious alcohol-related scam. (This is important, because Keralites are the biggest consumers of alcohol on a per capita basis, alas.)

The Marxists are also vulnerable. That is partly because of pure demographics and partly because of their own missteps. Marxists hurt Ezhava sentiments by taking them for granted, and also through insensitivity. They created, in a parade, a tableau of Sree Narayana Guru being lassoed and then crucified by upper caste Hindus. The idea was that OBCs were being oppressed by upper jatis, but it came across as arrogant and sacrilegious. Besides, a series of bloody murders of RSS activists by Marxists (and vice versa) has tarnished their image.

The BJP has a problem with name recognition: few of its top echelons are household names, but the general trend supports them. The award-return circus and Kerala House beef circus may help or hinder the BJP, it is hard to tell. Encouragingly for them, the most recent by-election, in Aruvikkara showed them gaining a number of new voters.

Thus, the overall situation in Kerala remains murky, but chances are that the Congress and the Marxists will lose some of their support, the Muslim League will retain its, and the BJP will gain.

Amit Shah’s Pakistan comment: Opposition wants EC to bar BJP President from entering Bihar

The parties complained to the EC on this matter on a day when Prime Minister Narendra raised the pitch on this issue addressing a rally in Lalu Prasad’s home turf Gopalganj and citing a speech of Nitish Kumar in Parliament allegedly favouring sub quota for Muslims

amit shah

Upping the ante against Amit Shah after his “fireworks in Pakistan” remark, JD(U) and Congress approached the Election Commission demanding that the BJP chief be barred from entering Bihar for “inciting communal tension” till the election process ends.Taking strong objection to BJP’s poll advertisements in the state, they accused the party of using “lies and false propaganda” to vitiate the atmosphere and demanded that an FIR be registered against Shah as well Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his quota remarks. Slamming Shah’s remarks on Thursday that if BJP loses in Bihar, there will be fireworks in Pakistan, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said, “Shah’s remarks are inflammatory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A case should be registered against him and he should be debarred from entering Bihar till the poll process is over. He is a habitual conspirator. He was earlier also debarred from entering Gujarat by the court.”A delegation of Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, spokesperson Ajoy Kumar and JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and submitted a memorandum, accusing the BJP of “vitiating” the electoral process by “promoting communal tension” through its advertisements.It sought action including “complete withdrawal” of these ads and “prosecution” of the perpetrators. Submitting a list of advertisements issued by the BJP in Bihar including one which accuses Nitish Kumar-led of “snatching the plate of dalits” and accuses it of trying to carve five per cent reservation for a particular community from the quota for SC/ST/OBC, the delegation demanded quick action from the poll watchdog.The parties complained to the EC on this matter on a day when Prime Minister Narendra raised the pitch on this issue addressing a rally in Lalu Prasad’s home turf Gopalganj and citing a speech of Nitish Kumar in Parliament allegedly favouring sub quota for Muslims. Tyagi also said that the Election Commission should register a case against Modi for the repeated reference of his belonging to Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) in the same manner as the Election Commission had lodged a case against RJD chief Lalu Prasad for his forward versus back election remark earlier.They also cited two more ads. While one alleges that Lashkar-e-Toiba and ISI terrorists are “thriving in Bihar due to negligence” of JD-U leaders, the other talks of Bihar government’s role in “delayed” arrest of Yasin Bhatkal from Nepal border. The delegation alleged that it is a “shameless” attempt by the BJP at spreading “false propaganda” and “creating communal tension”. The Nitish Kumar-led alliance claimed that one of the ads say that RJD, JD(U) and Congress leaders are “giving sanctuary” to terrorists to appease a particular community for votes. The name of the particular community becomes clear when seen in context to previous day’s ad, which spoke about Muslim community appeasement by RJD-JD(U) and Congress by ‘robbing the plate of dalits’, the delegation alleged.On the ad regarding Bhatkal arrest issue, the delegation said that it questions whether the ‘delay’ was to make a particular community feel the “government’s benevolence”. “The connection between letting Bhatkar escape and a community is done to connect Bhatkal with the Muslim community,” they alleged.”In the on-going elections in Bihar, the BJP has been promoting lies, false propaganda and communal tensions through its advertisements. This has resulted in vitiating the electoral process by promoting communal tension…. “As you will see from these ads, it is a shameless attempt at spreading false propaganda and creating communal tension by use of misuse of select words in ambiguous contexts that could be interpreted for multiple factions for inciting violence between the two communities,” the delegation said in its memorandum.Terming these ads as “blatant violation” of the provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the delegation said, “The EC must demand a complete withdrawal of the advertisement and prosecution should be initiated against the perpetrators at the earliest.”Meanwhile, an RJD delegation submitted a memorandum to the Election Office in Patna against “misleading, highly inflamamatory and polarising” advertisements by BJP against JD(U) and RJD and also “firecrackers in Pakistan” comment of Amit Shah and demanded stern action. The RJD delegation led by its national spokesman Manoj Jha met Additional Chief Electoral Officers Arvind Chaudhary and R Lakshamanan and submited the memorandum.It highlighted RJD’s resentment against Shah “firecrackers in Pakistan” comment and urged EC to take cognisance of it and initiate stern action, a RJD statement said here.The RJD team also drew EC’s attention to BJP advertisement in newspapers. Jha said such advertisements were against model code of conduct and against IPC 153 (A) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

Telangana to recruit 33% women in state police force

Chief Minister Rao seems to be keenly aware that unless the law-and-order situation is under control, the state, especially Hyderabad, would not become the investment destination that he wants it to be.

Indian police women marching in a parade
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
Telangana is set to implement, voluntarily, 33% reservation in the state police force. The decision will be notified in a few days’ time, according to highly placed sources in the government. The state government is recruiting 7,000 personnel, out of which 33%, 2100, would be women.The initiative for the move came from the higher echelons of the police, and Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhara Rao gave the nod without much ado. It was decided that instead of creating a few all-women police stations, which would be mere tokens, it would be better to have women in all the police stations across the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 33% principle would apply to staffing pattern in all the police stations. It is being argued that the presence of women in all the police stations would not only result in the empowerment of the women in the force, but it would also encourage women to go to the police stations to register their complaints.It was also found that the all-women police stations did not work well as they were intended to. One of the surprising discoveries was that the levels of corruption in the all-women police stations was high.The modernisation of the police seems to be one of the things that is happening at a brisk pace in the little-more-than-a-year-old state. Chief Minister Rao seems to be keenly aware that unless the law-and-order situation is under control, the state, especially Hyderabad, would not become the investment destination that he wants it to be. That is why, he willing to acceded to any demand that would modernise the police system and improve its functioning.One of the consequences of this pro-active attitude of the Chief Minister has been that the city police had placed an order for 3000 patrol cars, and every police station in the state would have a modern patrol car to replace the rickety jeeps of old.According to sources, the two main potential challenges in the new state—Naxalism and Hindu-Muslim tensions or communalism—seem to have been sorted out each in their own way.Thanks to the success of the Greyhounds—the special anti-Naxal force in the undivided Andhra Pradesh—the Naxalites had been pushed from the hotspots in the state like Warangal and Karimnagar. The problem that Telangana police face with regard to Naxalism is to guard the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border. There are incidents where the Telangana police are engaged in skirmishes from the Naxalites based in the Bastar area, across the state border. It is now being asserted that there is a Naxal threat from within the state.As to Hindu-Muslim tensions, the sporadic riots that used to break out in the old city of Hyderabad, where 42% of city’s population (all of them Muslims) stay, are now a thing of the past. It is considered the largest urban concentration of Muslims in the whole country.The police admit that this is not due to the miracle of better policing but due to the widening of roads in the old city. The municipal authorities had demolished many of the ramshackle frontages housing old shops. There is an improved road connection in the old city which stretches into the outskirt of Falaknuma, with its famous palace now turned into a heritage hotel by the Tatas. It has become a huge attraction for the Hyderabadis as well as tourists.Now the owners of the buildings have rebuilt their frontages and turned them into bigger shopping complexes. Due to the flow of remittances from the Gulf countries, many in the old city have gotten into lucrative businesses. People now have economic stakes and do not want a riot to disrupt their lives. It is also due to the improved economic conditions that the children from the families in the old city are going to better schools located across River Musi.The sources say that the police have adopted a nuanced approach to Muslim youth being attracted to jihadi organisations like the Islamic State (IS). While surveillance has been stepped up it is not overtly intrusive. Arrests based on mere suspicion are being avoided and the tendency to file chargesheets has been reined in. Instead, the police call in the family and friends of the youth to apprise them of the issue.The city police have apparently learned bitter lessons from the arrest of 19 Muslim youth in connection with the Mecca Masjid blasts of 2007. It turned out that all the 19 were innocent, and a judicial commission of inquiry came down heavily against police excess. The police say that it was the pressure from political authorities to nail the culprits quickly that led mistakes like framing the innocent. They are now disinclined to rush into nailing culprits and filing cases.

RSS likely to pass resolution on population ‘imbalance’

The recent census showed that the Muslim community had registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period.

“There would be extensive deliberations on the subject during the meeting and a resolution in this context may be taken up,” he said.

With the recent census figures recording the Muslim population count at over 17 crores, the three-day RSS executive beginning tomorrow is expected to adopt a resolution calling for a check in the “imbalance” of population growth. Addressing the media on the eve of the meet, RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said the recent census which had just come showed an imbalance in the growth of population. “There would be extensive deliberations on the subject during the meeting and a resolution in this context may be taken up,” he said. Entire top brass of the RSS, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, will attend the meet. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent census showed that the Muslim community had registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period.In his Vijya Dashmi address last week, Bhagwat had said that facts and figures of the last two census reports and the imbalances that had come to notice as a result were being widely discussed. “Our present and future is getting impacted by it. We need to rise above vote bank politics to formulate a holistic approach, equally applicable to all citizens, towards the population policy. “Such a population policy be enforced by our governments or laws alone. Considerable efforts are required to tune society’s psyche to the same. It would be prudent to think about it during policy-making exercise,” he had said.Vaidya also sought a countrywide debate over the Upamanyu Hazarika Commission’s report that illegal migration from Bangladesh is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by the year 2047. “Recently, the Hazarika Commission report has given a startling information about changing demographic situation in Assam and Bengal. If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” he said.

Supreme Court to examine issue of discrimination of Muslim women in cases of divorce

A bench of Justices Anil R Dave and A K Goel ordered registration of a Public Interest Litigation and for putting it up before the new bench to deal with the issues related to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
A Supreme Court bench has asked the Chief Justice of India to constitute an “appropriate bench” to examine the question as to whether Muslim women are facing gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husband.A bench of Justices Anil R Dave and A K Goel ordered registration of a Public Interest Litigation and for putting it up before the new bench to deal with the issues related to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. It noted that the issue was not merely a policy matter but concerns the fundamental rights of the women guaranteed under the Constitution.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The issue has cropped-up during the hearing of a matter related to Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act and the bench noted that “an important issue of gender discrimination which though not directly involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the counsel for the parties which concerns rights to Muslim women. Discussions on gender discrimination led to this issue also.””It was pointed out that in spite of guarantee of the Constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her,” it noted.”For this purpose, a PIL be separately registered and put up before the appropriate Bench as per orders of the Chief Justice of India. Notice be issued to learned Attorney General and National Legal Services Authority, returnable on November 23, 2015. We give liberty to counsel already appearing in this matter to assist the Court on this aspect of the matter, if they wish to volunteer, for either view point,” the court said.

Campaign points: BJP rides on tech to reach the nooks of Bihar

Bettiah, Bihar: This Nukkad Sabha is different. There is no dais, no mike and no local leader physically present to display his lung power. But it still works, and perhaps delivers even better results. The BJP’s high-tech audio-visual vans have made the traditional street corner meetings by sundry party politicians virtually redundant. In the peak election season, it allows them to save their energy for more meaningful organisational work.

At around 6.30 pm, a Mahindra MUV covered with BJP’s campaign hoardings stops near Supriya Cinema, Bettiah. It plays a song, ‘Abki baar Bhajapa sarkar’, and the driver climbs down from his seat. He come to the other side of the van, stops in front of the smiling portrait of BJP president Amit Shah, opens a latch and then with the help of a small stick, pushes the photo frame up. An LCD TV blinks at the exact location that Shah was seen smiling only seconds ago. The driver uses a remote to make his system play. The song is now on full volume.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The driver doesn’t care whether there is any audience for his show as he proceeds almost mechanically and then retreats into the darkness behind a tree. Few onlookers from nearby shops start gathering, some cycles, some bikes stop too. The riders get down and in a matter of minutes the show draws a small crowd.  Just as they are waiting for the presenter’s narration and song, Narendra Modi appears on the scene to tell the electorate why should they vote for change, vote for the BJP.

The half-an-hour show is a mix of clips from Modi’s speeches in various parts of Bihar and promotional songs and dance. Not everybody waits for this show or ‘mechanised street corner meet’ to finish. People leave after a few minutes and a new audience halts to see what is going on, which in a way makes sure that that the show goes on.

This is one of the ‘parivartan raths’ that Amit Shah had launched in June 2014 to kick off the BJP’s poll campaign. That perhaps is the reason why Shah’s smiling face photo frame is used as a window to broadcast an audio-visual show in which Narendra Modi is the only visible actor. BJP MP from Bettiah Sanjay Jaiswal says these parivartan raths have proved to be very effective.

He makes a long narration how he used them effectively when he was a candidate in the parliamentary election. He says it draws lot bigger and more enthusiastic crowds in rural areas. That’s obvious because these raths bring the required light and sound in those areas where electricity and means of entertainment are a rarity. That also made Modi’s presence felt in areas where he otherwise couldn’t reach.

The Bettiah parivartan rath show was interesting because it was only hours ago that Modi had addressed a huge public rally at Sadium Maidan. One would assume that the driver and the BJP organisers were wasting time and energy. But it became an occasion for some to start a discussion on the size and impact of Modi’s rally. Some of the participants in this debate had attended the rally. It was difficult to distinguish whether they were BJP workers or BJP voters.

“I have not seen such a rally in Bettiah. It was packed to capacity. I didn’t even try to get closer to the stage because there was too much of crowd and I was apprehensive that it would take too much of time and jostling to get out when the rally was finally over,” said Suresh Goyal.

Another participant in the debate Mahendra Prasad interrupted: “Did you see people had climbed atop the dome of Jami mosque?” He wondered why members of the Muslim community took that kind of risk to hear Modi. Yet another one gave his verdict: “That’s their curiosity. They would never vote for the BJP but are always curious about what Modi says and does.”

They went to discuss how many seats the BJP-led NDA and its rival Mahagathbandhan could win in two districts of West Champaran (Bettiah) and East Champaran (Motihari).
One of them ignited the debate further by asking whether nine BJP candidates from West Champaran, present on the dais with Modi belonging to nine different castes will have any bearing on the minds of the voters.

The two districts have a total of 21 seats — nine in West and 12 in East Champaran. Over the years, the two neighbouring districts have become BJP strongholds.

A BJP leader later said, “In the last Assembly election when we fought in alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), we fought on 10 seats, won 12.” It sounded bizarre arithmetic but then he explained, “Officially we fought on 10 seats and put up two Independents in Sikta and Dhanka because Nitish forced us to concede those two seats. So we backed two Independents with all kinds of support.” Both of them — Dilip Verma and Pawan Jaiswal — won. Both are now fighting as official BJP candidates from the same seats. A third Independent who won from the region too has joined BJP. The JD(U) had fielded 11 and won seven.

This time the Mahagathbandhan has given five seats to the Congress in the region. That surprises many but Pappu Yadav (a small time contractor, not the Madhepura MP) provided some interesting logic for that. “Lalu and Nitish always knew that these were their weakest areas and thus they gave five seats to the Congress, possibly to count the losses in their junior partner’s account.”

Butchers of UP swear against dealing in cow meat

He said that the Qureshis would not keep “roti-beti ka rishta” with such “criminals” meaning that they would not have marital or business relations with people who dealt in cow meat.

In a unique initiative which could go a long way in checking communal disturbances over cow slaughter, the Qureshi community of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh has decided to impose a complete social boycott of those who indulge in any kind of business in cow meat. Cow slaughter is banned in UP but buffaloes can be killed for their meat, as is the case in several other states across the country.Qureshis have been traditionally following the metyr of butchery, though most Muslim communities engage in the meat business in one way or the other. This is the first time that the Qureshis have taken such a decision. It assumes significance in the light of the recent lynching of one Akhlaq in Dadri (west UP) over rumours that he and his family consumed cow meat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will not have any relation, business or personal, with anyone dealing in cow meat,” says Shamim Qureshi, president of a body of Qureshis dominant in west UP. “We will soon form teams and co-ordinate with police and district administration officials to crack down on those who are indulging in cow slaughter and bringing a bad name to our community,” he said.He said that the Qureshis would not keep “roti-beti ka rishta” with such “criminals” meaning that they would not have marital or business relations with people who dealt in cow meat.Most of the state’s 3,000-odd abattoirs are in west UP which is also notorious for the high incidence of communal riots. Since June last year, UP has witnessed as many as 330 incidents of communal violence of which 216 took place in west UP alone.Police officials admit that many slaughterhouses in the state are running illegally but the government can do little to shut them down owing to the sensitivity of the minority community as also the political patronage this industry enjoys.”Most of the slaughterhouses are connected in one way or the other to political leaders of the SP or the BSP,” revealed a senior police official who has spent the larger part of his career in west UP. Interestingly, BJP MLA Sangeet Som, one of the main accused in the horrific September 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, was also a director of a meat processing company, though he resigned later.It is also a well-known fact that hundreds of cows are smuggled every day into Nepal or to the north-eastern states, where cow slaughter is not prohibited, for consumption. These cows are the ones which have stopped giving milk and have been left to roam the streets by their owners.UP’s controversial Muslim minister Azam Khan perhaps made a factual statement when he said that Hindus owned and ran more slaughterhouses than Muslims. He has also called upon the Centre to completely ban slaughter of cow and buffalo in the country as many communal disturbances had been caused by the confusion over buffalo meat with beef, which is cow meat.Strangely enough, though, the BJP manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha election promised a National Cattle Development Board, it was silent on curbing buffalo meat exports

Geeta’s story gets complicated, refuses to recognise Indian family

A team of doctors from the AIIMS, took blood samples of Geeta. Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father

Geeta with Sushma Swaraj

The story of deaf-mute Geeta got further complicated on Monday when she refused to recognise the Mahato family. Stranded in Pakistan 15 years ago, she arrived here to a rosy welcome. The family from Bihar had claimed Geeta as their lost daughter. In the chambers of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, where Mahato family was made to sit face-to-face, Geeta didn’t make any emotional bonding and preferred to stay with Indore based sign language expert Monika Punjabi.A team of doctors from the AIIMS, took blood samples of Geeta. Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father. The father has also already given his blood samples and is currently being tested at the Hyderabad based Central Forensic Laboratory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Pakistani media had highlighted her case way back in 2012, it created ripples only after movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan which had a story on similar lines. Sushma took a political swipe at the previous UPA government for not showing pro-activeness, saying, “We came to power in 2014…There is a need to show pro-activeness on certain levels to settle such issues.”Recounting that when after the Salman Khan blockbuster hit screens and the electronic media raised the issue of Geeta, minister of external affairs immediately asked Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan to visit Karachi along with his wife to verify claims of Eidhi foundation and Geeta.Armed with sketchy details and pictures, which were displayed and broadcast through media, four families from Punjab, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had approached the ministry of external affairs claiming the mute girl is their child. “I asked chief ministers of these four states to verify claims. And finally it was only the Bihar family which was somewhat closer to reality. She (Geeta) responded to their pictures as well, when she was shown it in Karachi,” said Sushma. Sushma, however, hastened to add that their were loopholes in Mahato story as well. “They said Geeta had been married and had left her husbands’ home. But she was just 11, when she wandered over the border. And Geeta also denies she had married. But we still took their story, but called for DNA testing,” said the external affairs minister.Swaraj, said: “It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not. She is a daughter of India and we will take care of her.” The government has already identified an Indore-based NGO working with speech and hearing impaired people to teach Geeta. At first, she was kept at a children’s home in Lahore, where she was given the Muslim name Fatima. She would point at maps of India, especially to an area somewhere in Bihar until she was able to finally communicate she was from India, and not a Pakistani.Manoj, claiming to be Geeta’s brother, said Geeta must have been confused right now and hoped once after settling down, she will recognise her family. He claimed that Geeta was married and used to live with her husband when she got lost from a ‘Baisakhi fair’.

68 years since Kashmir’s accession: Want peace? Talk to locals, not US

If the relationship of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union remains in limbo on the sixty-eighth anniversary of the state’s accession to India, it is largely because the Government of India has over-emphasised global projection while missing out on local persuasion.

The effort to persuade world powers of India’s juridical claim was based on a naïve faith that those powers were unbiased. Chandrashekhar Dasgupta’s superbly researched (2002) book clearly shows that geostrategic concerns made Britain steer the United Nations Security Council towards backing Pakistan’s claims in 1948. Not only did it think Pakistan was far more likely to give the West such strategic benefits as landing rights for aircraft, it did not want to alienate `the whole of the Muslim world’ at a time when it was installing Israel in Palestine.

A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. APA Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. AP

A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. AP

From 1949, the US took the lead role for the West regarding Kashmir, proposing that the United Nations appoint US Admiral Chester Nimitz to arbitrate a solution between India and Pakistan. That could have opened the way for introducing an `independence option’ but Jawaharlal Nehru rejected Nimitz’s nomination.

The US’s stand on Kashmir shifted radically only in 1995, when Ambassador Frank Wisner asked Pakistan to reassess its options when he addressed Pakistan Army’s staff college. That contrasted sharply with a volley of shrill anti-India statements from Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel just a couple of years before.

That change in the US’s stand had nothing to do with all the time, effort and resources the Ministry of External Affairs had earnestly put in over the past 47 years. It was powered by Wall Street’s pleasure over India’s investment liberalization and the US’s desire to wrap up India’s nuclear programme through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Even thereafter, though, world powers including the US have been happy to keep the fires in Kashmir burning. Happiness with market access aside, world powers still want to see India and Pakistan unstable – and therefore beholden to them.

The government would therefore be well advised to concentrate instead on engaging the Kashmiri people in a meaningful dialogue. No one in the world can raise a peep on the issue unless common Kashmiris raise a hue and cry.

Sadly, the current trends of targeted violence across the country are achieving the opposite effect. This is tragic, for reports from Dadri and other places across the country bolster the revulsion already caused by the horrific repression of counterinsurgency, the mindsets which political Islam have moulded, and the effects of the global `War on Terror’ – all vital motivating factors for the current round of militancy.

On this anniversary of accession, the government would do well to not only take stock of the damage from these trends but to also examine other reasons why many Kashmiris think of accession as fundamentally illegitimate.

One of the most important factors is skewed narratives about what happened between 25 and 27 October 1947. Generations of Kashmiris have grown up on these, and some still do. But, as with most social realities of this state, the Union government is oblivious – and several state governments have used these narratives to their advantage.

One common narrative goes something like this: ‘Sheikh Abdullah acceded to India temporarily when he asked his friend Nehru to send troops to help Kashmir against the kabalis (tribesmen from Pakistan who invaded the state on 22 October 1947). When the kabalis had been expelled, the army never left. They still occupy our land.’ No mention of the maharaja. Nor, generally, any understanding of what an accession means.

Other narratives abound – for instance, that Kashmir was an independent country until Indian troops arrived. Ironically, Kashmiri intellectuals routinely highlight tyrannical repression by Dogra rulers (1846-1951), but rarely point to how these narratives contradict those other ones.

The education system does not address these vital issues. The approved curriculum simply ignores Kashmir’s recent history. But this does not prevent teachers, family elders and other educators from promoting narratives about the illegitimacy of India’s presence in Kashmir.

Unsubstantiated narratives are also peddled by many of the shoddily-written notes (kunjis) on which most students rely to pass examinations, particularly in the current phase when the education system has been badly mauled by a quarter-century of militancy.

If the Government spent on ground-level education just a fraction of the resources it has spent on international projections, it would diminish the ready levers that the UK, the US, Pakistan or China pull to geostrategic advantage as and when any of these or other countries see fit.

Government spokespersons who routinely disparage Kashmiri agitators as ‘misguided’ have no clue how they are misguided. As long as the young men believe that India’s role 68 years ago was illegitimate, those who want to excite agitators will have a field day.

Of course, questioning populist narratives about accession will not suffice in isolation. Straightforward answers also need to be given regarding the promised plebiscite. If the government could develop policies beyond throwing money and military force at Kashmir, nurture responsive multi-layered democratic governance, and abide by the rule of law, it could move towards a plebiscite or negotiated settlement acceptable to the people.

David Devadas, an expert on political and international affairs, is the author of In Search of a Future, the Story of Kashmir

Don’t slaughter cows, create burial grounds for them: Azam Khan

To buttress his point, the minister quoted several Muslim emperors who had imposed ban on slaughtering of cows.

He also accused PM Modi of defaming the country on foreign land

Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, who has earlier advocated banning cow slaughter, on Sunday called for creating burial grounds for dead cows as a mark of respect. Azam also asked the people not to sell infertile or old cows. “I am very much in favour of banning slaughtering of cows. People should not sell off cows grown infertile or old,” the minister said after inaugurating a market here today. To buttress his point, the minister quoted several Muslim emperors who had imposed ban on slaughtering of cows.”A burial ground should be arranged for dead cows,” he said. Taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he accused him of defaming the country on foreign land. “He (Modi) has been defaming India in foreign countries by telling that dishonesty, bribery etc existed here (before he took the reins),” Azam said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said that the prime minister should listen to the ‘Mann ki Baat’ of the masses instead of appearing on All India Radio to air his own ‘Mann ki Baat’, which cannot provide solace to the masses suffering due to spiralling prices. Targeting those who ask him to migrate to Pakistan, Azam asked,”they should advice me that how can I take with me Jauhar university and various other developmental works done by me?”