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Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan pitches for new Parliament building

About a year back, a suggestion to build a new Parliament was reportedly made at a meeting of Budget Committee of Parliament including Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai, Public Accounts Committee Chairman K V Thomas and Estimates Committee Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi. Thomas had said that the existing building was “old” and a new Parliament building should be thought of as provision needed to be made for the next 100 years.

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Also ReadIndiaIndian Muslims don’t let their children get radicalised by ISIS: Rajnath SinghIndiaLok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan pitches for new Parliament buildingIndiaCongress says ‘odd-even’ scheme a Muhammad Tuglaq-like act from KejriwalIndiaIndia, Pakistan and Bangladesh can become a ‘federation’: Ram Vilas PaswanIndiaFormulate common population policy, redefine minority: Union Minister Giriraj SinghIndiaRemove Modi to save India, remove Mamata to save West Bengal: Sitaram Yechury <!– /.block –>

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Tamil Nadu elections: BJP may claim DMDK is part of NDA, snubs Vijaykanth

While MDMK snapped ties with the BJP in December last, PMK asserted that its ties with the saffron party were only at the central level. On Saturday, Ramadoss-led party had offered the Deputy Chief Minister’s post to the BJP if elected to power, demanding that the saffron party should accept the leadership of their chief Anbumani Ramadoss.

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<!– /.block –>Iran’s President Rouhani says it’s up to Muslims to correct Islam’s image <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaIndian Muslims don’t let their children get radicalised by ISIS: Rajnath SinghIndiaLok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan pitches for new Parliament buildingIndiaCongress says ‘odd-even’ scheme a Muhammad Tuglaq-like act from KejriwalIndiaIndia, Pakistan and Bangladesh can become a ‘federation’: Ram Vilas PaswanIndiaFormulate common population policy, redefine minority: Union Minister Giriraj SinghIndiaRemove Modi to save India, remove Mamata to save West Bengal: Sitaram Yechury <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Remove Modi to save India, remove Mamata to save West Bengal: Sitaram Yechury<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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UP minister Ompal Nehra sacked for asking Muslims to help build Ram temple in Ayodhya

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Akhilesh Yadav

Uttar Pradesh minister Ompal Nehra has been sacked, after commenting that Muslims must give up their claims on mosques in Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi and help build temples in those places.The minister made the comment on Thursday at a function in Bijnore, reports NDTV. This morning, he was sacked by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.Mr Nehra had said, “Where can a Ram temple be built if not at Ayodhya? Muslims should help in building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and a Krishna temple in Mathura and give up their claim on mosques there. In fact I would say that Muslims should join Kar Seva (volunteer) for the Ram temple.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has been gathering truckloads of stones for a temple at the site in Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid once stood, and was destroyed by Hindu fanatics in 1992.

Maha govt allows alcohol shops to stay open on Eid-e-Milad (December 24)

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However, slamming the move, Congress leader Sachin Sawant claimed it proves that the government is not paying heed to the demands of Muslims.

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Maharashtra government has allowed alcohol shops to remain open from late night till wee hours on Eid-e-Milad, along with Christmas and New Year’s Eve, prompting the Congress and AIMIM to accuse it of disregarding the sentiments of Muslims over demand for liquor ban on that day. A circular issued by the state home department grants relaxation in timings to shops, beer bars and other establishments selling liquor, alcohol, beer, wine and country liquor on December 24 (Eid-e-Milad), December 25 (Christmas) and December 31 (New Year’s Eve). <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It allows foreign liquor (FL-II) retail shops to remain open on all three days from 10.30 PM to 1 AM and permit rooms, restaurants and bars (excluding in police commissionerate areas) from 11 PM to 5 AM. In the police commissionerate areas, beer and wine shops will be allowed to remain open between 10.30 PM and 1 AM; hotels, restaurants, canteens and clubs between 10.30 PM and 5 AM; country liquor shops in C-class municipal councils and zilla parishad areas (excluding Cantonment areas) from 10 PM to 1 AM and, in areas other than these, between 11.59 PM to 1 AM, on all three days. However, slamming the move, Congress leader Sachin Sawant claimed it proves that the government is not paying heed to the demands of Muslims. “It can be easily seen that this government is not paying importance to the demands of Muslims and they are being made to feel like secondary citizens, following the ideology of the RSS,” he further charged. AIMIM legislator Imtiyaz Jaleel said that a memorandum seeking a ban on liquor sale was for gauging the attitude of the government towards the sentiments of Muslims. “The request was made with the purpose of seeing the government’s intentions towards our sentiments and whether they respect it. If they could respect the sentiments of Jains by banning meat during ‘Paryushan’, they could have taken cognisance of our request as well,” he said.(Read: Some Muslims don’t want ban on alcohol on December 24)

Maharashtra Legislative Council: Opposition stages walkout on Muslim reservation issue

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Leader of Opposition, Dhananjay Munde, said the High Court has upheld the reservations in educational institutions for Muslims, but the government still allowed the original ordinance in this regard to lapse, and no fresh decision was forthcoming.

Maharashtra Legislative Council
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dna Research & Archives
Opposition members in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Tuesday staged a walkout to protest against the BJP-led government’s “indifferent attitude” towards the issue of reservations for Muslims.The issue was raised by NCP’s Khwaja Beg and Jaywantrao Jadhav, who wanted to know government’s stand on re-issuance of ordinance to extend reservations to Muslims in the educational institutions and government jobs.Leader of Opposition, Dhananjay Munde, said the High Court has upheld the reservations in educational institutions for Muslims, but the government still allowed the original ordinance in this regard to lapse, and no fresh decision was forthcoming.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This showed the indifferent attitude of the BJP-Shiv Sena government,” he alleged.Senior cabinet minister Eknath Khadse (BJP) listed the objections raised against giving reservations to Muslims, and said the matter was pending before the High Court. The reply failed to satisfy the opposition MLCs who trooped out of the House.

Here’s why 1 lakh Muslims are demanding death penalty for Kamlesh Tiwari

Kamlesh Tiwari made an inflammatory statement reportedly after Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan said that RSS leaders are homosexuals and that is why they don’t get married.

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
Self-proclaimed Hindu Mahasabha activist Kamlesh Tiwari is in trouble for making derogatory remarks against Muslims and Prophet Mohammed. Angry about his remarks, one lakh Muslims gathered in Muzaffarnagar to demand death penalty for Tiwari.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On December 3, Kamlesh Tiwari, in a press note issued by him, claimed that Prophet Mohammed was the first homosexual. His statement reportedly came after Samajwadi Party minister Azam Khan had said that RSS leaders are homosexuals and this is why they don’t get married.Azam Khan’s remarks had come after Arun Jaitley had spoken up against Section 377 and said that the Supreme Court judgement on gay sex should be reconsidered. Arun Jaitley had said: “Supreme Court’s 2014 verdict banning gay sex is not in accordance with evolving legal jurisprudence and court needs to reconsider it.”Tiwari had been arrested in Lucknow the same day, and he was disowned by the Hindu Mahasabha who claimed that he wasn’t part of the outfit. The group said that the BJP and RSS had made up the fact to tarnish their image.According to a report, Samajwadi Party’s media convener Javed Ansari said that the protestors had two demands:Death penalty for Kamlesh Tiwari which should exist for anyone who insults the Prophet
Stricter laws against religious leaders who make hate speeches
On the other hand, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad has demanded capital punishment against Azam Khan for his statements. The Indian Express quoted him as saying: “All this happened due to conspiracy of Hindu Mahasabha and the minister (Azam) so that Muslims and Hindus continue fighting and votes are divided… This Muslim minister is tarnishing the image of the government. After his controversial statement, Tiwari gathered courage to issue derogatory statement against Prophet Muhammad.”

Imran Khan meets PM Modi, bats for resumption of cricketing ties

On his meeting with Modi, Imran said, “I told Modi that cricket should happen. Modiji smiled at that question and I couldn’t decipher whether it was a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But I am a positive person and would take that positively”.

Picture courtesy MEA Twitter handle

With the Indo-Pak cricketing ties in limbo, Pakistani cricketing legend-turned politician Imran Khan on Friday asserted that stopping cricket is not an answer to terrorism and said he has raised the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi while hoping for a positive response.”Stopping cricket is not an answer to terrorism. You don’t boycott a society on the basis of few sick men,” Imran said, when asked about playing cricket amid terrorism from across the border, at ‘Agenda AajTak’. “I supported the ban on South Africa once, but that was due to their stance on apartheid and that was a human rights violation. But other than that I believe sport should carry on. It is a matter of lifelong relationship. people to people contact is necessary to build ties. Sachin (Tendulkar) is loved in Pakistan as a Wasim (Akram) is loved in India,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On his meeting with Modi, Imran said, “I told Modi that cricket should happen. Modiji smiled at that question and I couldn’t decipher whether it was a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But I am a positive person and would take that positively”.”We are the first generation of partition children, so we had heard a lot of hate stories. And people like us were on each side of the country. But when I toured India as a cricketer, I realised that we are the same people, who listen to the same songs and have the same tastes.”There is consensus in Pakistan against terror. So we should look to bridge gaps not create distances,” he said. Imran, the politician, also tried to explain the dynamics of modern society, once again stressing the need for people-to-people contact. “Every society has two sections — the right wing and the liberals. Look what Donald Trump had to say against Muslims.So you should not judge a society like Pakistan. When Mumbai attacks happened every Pakistani was sad. “Seeing people go down is always a sad thing for a human being. So acts like these do not reflect the true image or though of the whole nation,” he added.Meanwhile 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, who was also sharing the stage with Imran, was more guarded in his stance on Indo-Pak cricket. “Players have no problem in playing against each other, but you can’t go against government policy. Boards certainly want to play, but Imran, Kapil and Sachin’s views do not matter, it is the government’s decision which finally counts,” Kapil said.

Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim comments have ‘potential of nuclear bomb’: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

On being asked by an American reporter to respond to Trump’s comments in the aftermath of the California shooting, Parrikar said the question has the “potential of a nuclear bomb” but did not give a clear response to what he thought of the remarks.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) and Indias Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar arrive at a joint press conference after their meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, December 10, 2015.

Reuters
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday ducked a question on US Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s controversial remarks over total shutdown of Muslims entering America but said in India, “we don’t look towards communities with suspicion”.On being asked by an American reporter to respond to Trump’s comments in the aftermath of the California shooting, Parrikar said the question has the “potential of a nuclear bomb” but did not give a clear response to what he thought of the remarks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I’ll not comment on what has been talked about in the US, but as far as India is concerned, we have the second largest Muslim population in the world and we gel well.”We believe that everyone has equal opportunity, equal rights.”Yes, maybe there are a few small pockets of extremism, radicalisation, but they are too few to treat the different sections of society differently,” Parrikar said.”In India, we have equal rights for everyone, and we don’t look towards communities with suspicion. Those who are radicalised is a different issue. We tackle them separately, but that is – those were terrorists,” Parrikar said in response to a question.On Tuesday, the controversial business tycoon, Trump, called for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US in the aftermath of the California massacre, in his most divisive remarks yet that drew widespread global condemnation including from his party’s rival candidates and the White House.According to a statement issued by his campaign, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”Parrikar, the first Indian Defence Minister to have addressed the Pentagon correspondents, earlier held talks with his American counterpart Ashton Carter on key defence and regional and global security issues.

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.

Russia-led alliance tells India’s Muslims to back its fight against Islamic State

Participants at the Anti-terrorism Day function in New Delhi on Thursday
Manit
dna
Three decades ago when Russia invaded Afghanistan, it triggered a mobilisation in the Islamist world leading to the first modern jihad and initiating the birth of al Qaeda. Now with its military intervention in the conflict in Syria threatening to once again stoke Islamic extremism, Moscow is presenting its involvement as an effective and necessary step to fight the Islamic State group, whose trail of terror is threatening the whole world. The Russia-led alliance comprising Syria and Iran made a case in front of a gathering of Indian Muslim community to support its intervention against terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at an event labelled as “Anti-terrorism Day” organised by Anjuman-e-Haideri, a Shiite religious organisation based in Delhi, diplomats and ambassador from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran came together on one platform to vow to fight the militant extremist group of Islamic State of Daiesh. Both Iraq and Syria, which is currently fragmented with parts of its countries captured by the extremist group, also blamed the United States for its actions in fuelling the growth of IS.The militant group which came in power in June 2014 and declared a Caliphate thereafter became a target of airstrikes by the United States in Iraq. Since then more than seven countries have attacked the IS held territory, the latest being the United Kingdom.Since October, Russia aligned with the Syrian government in power headed by President Bashar al Assad to begin air strikes against rebel opposition groups and the IS. The Russian Air force is supported on the ground by pro-government alliance of the Syrian Armed Force and Iran backed foreign Shiite militias.Evgeny Bezeka, second secretary, Russian embassy said that Russia’s decision to fight against IS was followed after the invitation of the Bashar government. “We are fighting under the aegis of the international law with allies who understand the threat of IS.’’ Russia’s actions have been 100 per cent more effective in two months to contain IS, than the international coalition’s strikes from last one and half years.Syria’s ambassador Riaz Kamel Abbas and Iraq’s charge d’affairs Mohammad Sabri Rashid claimed that the US was not serious in its intervention to rid the region of IS. “Two decades ago, there was no terrorism in Iraq, after 9/11 and the invasion by US things changed. Even when IS infiltrated to capture parts of northern Iraq and began killing civilians, the US army stood with folded hands.’’Abbas added that the US coalition strikes has helped the militant group grow in size and capture more terrorism. “It is important to fight Daiesh but before that it’s important to know who is the power behind the group.’’India’s Muslims cannot be terroristsThe event had religious heads and representatives from the Christian, Hindu and even Sunni Muslim community. All the speakers condemned terrorism being fought under the guise of religion. “IS should first prove they are Muslims and then talk about Islam,’’ said Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan from Bareilly. He also said that terrorism attacks in India had no involvement of Muslims and it has added a blot on the community. Acharya Pramod Krishnam said India’s Muslims were targeted as terrorists and told to go to Pakistan. “They are here in India not by chance but by choice.’’

Will help curb ISIS but stop anti-Muslim comment by BJP leaders, Shia body asks PM Modi

Raza said there is nothing Islamic about ISIS – the Islamic State – and their actions are evil and outside the boundaries set by Islam

A prominent body of Shias on Thursday said the community is prepared to give all support to the government to help curb ISIS activities in the country but asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rein in BJP MPs and leaders from making statements against Muslims.”We are with central government. We will support and give any information to curb ISIS and terrorist activities in India. “At the same time, we would like the Prime Minister to rein in his MPs and leaders from making any ugly statements against Muslims,” Anjuman-E-Imamia President Syed Zamin Raza told PTI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raza said there is nothing Islamic about ISIS – the Islamic State – and their actions are evil and outside the boundaries set by Islam. Speaking on the sidelines of the commemoration of martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, Raza said a provocative and an emotive speech against Muslims has the potential to spoil the good work done to check ISIS activities in India. “A minute’s speech against Muslims will spoil the good work of curbing ISIS activities in the country,” he said.Raza also accused USA and some sections of Wahabi cult in Saudi Arabia of supporting global terrorism. “It is the US and some section of Wahabi cult in Saudi, who are spreading terrorism. Sunnis, however, are not terrorists. Why does the US does not take any action against such cult but are out to dismantle kingdoms of other Muslim countries. Why this double standard?” he asked.Asked whether AEI has chalked out any strategy to stop Muslims from joining ISIS, Raza said an event will be held next month where all important leaders of Islamic communities will be present and discuss terrorism perpetrated by ISIS and other terrorist outfits including Taliban and Al-Qaeda.Raza said ISIS is a threat to humanity and it cannot be defeated unless all work together with the help of technology at people’s disposal. He said the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Turkey are against divine and human laws. “We the Shia Muslim community join the nation in calling for swift apprehension and stiff punishment of the perpetrators,” he said.

No riots under NDA, India safest for Muslims, says Sakshi Maharaj

The BJP leader, known for making controversial statements, said Muslims of the country have given their assent on the views of leaders like Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Mahmood Madni that India is the safest country for them in the world.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Firebrand BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj has termed India as the safest country for Muslims, saying that no communal riots had taken place since the NDA government came to power. He also claimed that 32 lakh Muslims have become members of his party.The BJP leader, known for making controversial statements, said Muslims of the country have given their assent on the views of leaders like Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Mahmood Madni that India is the safest country for them in the world. Maharaj said it was a fact that no communal riot has taken place anywhere in the country under the Narendra Modi government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Some people use communal riots as a tool for vote bank politics and so a canard is being spread in the name of intolerance by certain people,” he said terming it as a planned conspiracy against the central government.”Almost 32 lakh Muslims have taken membership of BJP,” he said on Monday.The MP from Unnao said it is because of the clear and strong policies of the central government that Pakistan has agreed to have unconditional talks. To a question, he said BJP will contest the 2017 Assembly elections by projecting a face as there is no dearth of leaders in the party.

ISIS has influenced very few Indian youths; security agencies alert, says government

Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed.

Islamic State militants

Reuters
Islamic State (IS) has been able to influence very few Indian youths and security agencies are closely monitoring the situation, including keeping under surveillance potential recruits.Minister of State for Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Lok Sabha that government is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the intelligence and security agencies to identify potential recruits and keep them under surveillance.”The cyber space is being closely monitored in this regard,” he said. The Minister said a few incidents of unfurling of flags of ISIS by some misguided youths were noticed on different occasions in Jammu and Kashmir and some other states in recent past. “…state governments concerned have been directed to take appropriate action against such statements as per relevant provisions of law,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed. Quoting intelligence inputs, officials had said, it emerged that the dreaded terror outfit considered South Asian Muslims, including Indians, inferior to Arab fighters in the conflict zone of Iraq and Syria.According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered not good enough by ISIS and often tricked into suicide attacks.The report said that a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed in different incidents. Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS, the officials had said.

SP leader Azam Khan attacks Imam Bukhari, calls him an RSS agent

In a tit for tat, Bukhari called Khan a ‘blot on the community’ and demanded his dismissal from the UP state cabinet.

Azam Khan

Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan has kicked up a new controversy by claiming that Shahi Imam Bukhari is actually an RSS agent.According to a report in an English daily, addressing mediapersons at his home on Friday, Khan said, “Had my son married a Hindu girl, it would have created a political storm, but RSS was silent when Bukhari’s son married a Hindu girl. RSS could not see a love jihad in this wedding.”Khan then said that Bukhari was working at the behest of RSS, and was misleading the Muslim community. Khan asked Bukhari to pay attention to religious activities and not meddle in UP politics.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing mediapersons at his home on Friday, Khan said, “Had my son married a Hindu girl, it would have created a political storm, but RSS was silent when Bukhari’s son married a Hindu girl. RSS could not see a love jihad in this wedding.”In a tit for tat, Bukhari called Khan a ‘blot on the community’ and demanded his dismissal from the state cabinet, says the English daily. Bukhari then wrote to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, alleging that Muslims had no say in the UP government only because of Azam Khan.”Resentment among Muslims against Azam and the SP government is growing every day. Muslims have already expressed their anger against the SP government by voting against them during the recently-concluded panchayat elections,” said Bukhari. He further claimed that leaders like Azam Khan were fanning the flames of Hindu-Muslim disunity in the country.

ISIS may carry out ‘lone wolf’ attack, apprehends Kiren Rijiju

Asked about the incidents of the hoisting of the ISIS flag in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said these were isolated cases and not spread across the state or the country.

Kiren Rijiju

Banned terror group ISIS may carry out terror strikes anywhere in the country using a single terrorist also known as ‘lone wolf’ to create a mayhem, the government on Thursday said, adding that certain steps have been taken to prevent such nefarious designs.”Challenges are there. We have to accept that it is a reality. The threat is there,” Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told Karan Thapar in an interview to the India Today TV programme ‘To The Point’. He was replying to a question on the possibility of an ISIS ‘lone wolf’ carrying out a terror attack in India on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. In a statement that has a potential to trigger a controversy, Rijiju said Muslims from the southern states were “attracted” more to the ISIS ideology than their north Indian counterparts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a reality (some South Indian Muslims getting attracted to ISIS). It is a fact. But we should not undermine our vigil in other parts of the country,” he said. Rijiju said the government has been successful in enhancing security apparatus after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Asked how the government is prepared to face the challenge of ISIS, the Minister said anything that threatens the security of the country is taken seriously and the Home Ministry’s mandate is to provide security to the people and the country.Asked about the incidents of the hoisting of the ISIS flag in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said these were isolated cases and not spread across the state or the country. Rijiju said some web portals are under watch for their role in spreading the ISIS propaganda, but it is important to note that the servers of the web portals were not located in India.Asked about the ongoing debate on alleged intolerance, the Minister questioned why these comments were not raked up when there was a mass migration of Northeast people from Bengaluru and Pune or when a student from Arunachal Pradesh was “brutally killed” on a Delhi street or when someone said that there might be tremor when a big tree falls after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.Rijiju said the incidents of communal violence have gone down ever since the NDA government came to power in May 2014.

People across India offended by Aamir Khan’s statement: BJP

On Monday, the actor had voiced concern over growing instances of “intolerance” and kicked up a huge political row with his remarks at a function in Delhi on Monday about his wife Kiran Rao expressing fear for their child in the current atmosphere.

BJP on Wednesday said Aamir Khan’s making it clear that he is not leaving India “covers a wider issue” and wished the actor had been “more careful” about his earlier statement.BJP spokesman G V L Narsimha Rao said “people of the country cutting across the entire spectrum felt offended by what Aamir Khan said a couple of days ago and the actor’s statement today “covers a wider issue where he talks about about his love for the country.”On Monday, the actor had voiced concern over growing instances of “intolerance” and kicked up a huge political row with his remarks at a function in Delhi on Monday about his wife Kiran Rao expressing fear for their child in the current atmosphere.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rao said “people of the country cutting across the entire spectrum felt offended by what Aamir Khan had said a couple of days ago…..I wish he was more careful about the statement.””Today, the youth of this country are in a positive frame of mind and they expect their national icons in any sphere of life to echo such positive sentiments…Presenting their own country in a negative light…certainly hurt the emotions of millions of people of this country,” he added.Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has said that India is “the safest place” for Bollywood star Aamir Khan and his family where he is loved and respected by Hindus and Muslims.”I don’t think India is an intolerant country. Some people in India are intolerant. You would not find any country which is 100 per cent tolerant. Some people in every country are intolerant….Both Hindus and Muslims love and respect him. I think that India is the safest place for Aamir Khan and his family,” Nasreen said.Filmmaker Ashok Pandit said “whatever clarification has come (from Aamir), not leaving the country and going is a different issue. I would ask Aamir Khan a question on the basic issue of tolerance and intolerance.”He said leaving the country and going is Aamir’s personal likes and dislikes. “Any body can leave and go and nobody would stop you. If you are saying that there is intolerance then I would like to know the reasons for it,” Pandit said.

Om Puri slams Aamir Khan’s remarks, calls reaction to intolerance ‘intolerable’

Om Puri is not only one of our most committed actors he is also an artiste who speaks his mind fearlessly.

Reacting sharply to Aamir Khan’s hugely controversial statement that his family felt ‘insecure’ in the country’s atmosphere of growing intolerance, Puri says, “I am shocked Aamir Khan and his wife feel that way. I find Aamir’s reaction to intolerance overblown and intolerable.”

Not that Puri downplays the radical wrongdoings. “Whatever happened in Dadri is condemned by every Indian. But are we all supposed to run away from India just because there are sporadic cases of violence? In Kerala, Muslim fundamentalists chopped off a Christian’s hands; should we all flee because there are such incidents? Are you implying that such incidents are so common in our country that you need to run away? Radical undesirable elements exist among both Hindus and Muslims. They are just a handful of troublemakers.The majority of Hindus and Muslims are secular.This is my firm belief,” he adds.

Aamir_Om_380Aamir_Om_380Puri describes Aamir’s reaction as paranoid and calculated. “He has said he discussed this with his wife. So the statement about leaving the country was not spontaneous .No matter how we perceive his words, they make an extremely irresponsible statement. You are provoking the people of your community. You’re telling them, ‘Bhaiya, ya to taiyyar ho jao, lado. Ya mulk chhod ke jao’ (fight or flee).”

He sees Aamir as a weighty voice and one that needs to be used cautiously. “He is not some ordinary rabble-rouser. He is Aamir Khan..And if he’s such superstar in India, have only Muslims made him what he is? All of Hindustan loves you. How could you utter such shocking words?And let me repeat,they were not spontaneous words. He admits he had discussed this at home.”

Puri feels Aamir’s insecurities are baseless, “He is an influential man and therefore highly protected.What about the common man? You are doing a very dangerous things by telling people, ‘Be careful of the Hindus.’ For a popular voice to say this, and a voice that’s taken very seriously is a very dangerous thing.’

Speaking of tolerance Puri reasons, “What is Aamir talking about? We Indians are the most tolerant people in the world. When the 26/11 attacks happened did we rush into Pakistan with an army? Did we retaliate? No! We kept quiet while planes, buses, trains even our parliament was attacked. Kashmiri pundits were driven outf of their native land. And we kept quiet. And now Aamir wants to run away? He can afford to buy his own island for his family’s safety . But what about the common man who has to face so many hardships every day? Should they all run away from their country?”

He feels the BJP will deal firmly with radical elements, “After the Bihar debacle, BJP knows it will lose ground if it encourages radical elements. The junta wants to make sure politicians don’t take them for granted. If they could get rid of Congress after decades why not the BJP? A government that encourages violence won’t be tolerated. I want to ask Aamir Saab, when was the last time we had commual riots in our country? What is he insecure about?”

Saudi funding fans ultra-conservative Islam in India; the political, ideological response to it remains meek

By Sunil Raman

For years, the growing following and influence of ultra-conservative Islamist ideology in parts of Europe including Belgium, France and even Scandinavian countries has been talked and written about. Sometimes attacks on small scale were ignored as petty crimes or for reasons of political correctness, these were pushed under the carpet as Europe tried hard to project its image as a multi-cultural and multi-religious project where people of all faiths were free to follow and propagate their religious beliefs.

Until the 7 July, 2005 London attacks, Britain loved to show its openness to ideas and people even if they as UK residents preached hatred and opposition to Westminster style of democracy. A radical Egyptian cleric Abu Hamza was treated virtually as a state guest as he preached radical doctrine to Muslims in London and UK. Many in India will remember the freedom given to Khalistani Sikh organisations and Tamil Tigers by British authorities. Radical groups were allowed to spread hatred in the name of freedom and free speech.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

If the London attacks forced British authorities to wake up to the threat posed by such groups and the ideas they propagated, the November 2015 attacks in Paris seem to have woken up mainstream political parties in Europe to such a threat. Suddenly, Belgium is viewed as a weak link and liberal democracies have realised the danger of giving “unfettered” freedom to Islamic groups.

Flirtation with Saudi Arabia saw the rise of fancy mosques across the continent where many clerics preached a return to “pure Islamic ideals” as espoused in the Quran. Puritanical Wahabi ideology was and continues to be propagated from many of these mosques across the world, where clerics are not only sowing seeds of hatred against liberal democracies but also against Shia Muslims.

The last few years witnessed Salafis grow and spread with great speed across the globe as well. Their brand of Islam that considers all ideas and practices of Muslims that are not in conjunction with the Holy Book as heretical has taken root across the continent, among a growing population of young Muslims who are being told day in and day out that they must return to their roots.

Salafis are more conservative and do not accept many of the beliefs of Sunni Muslims, and they are more aggressively opposed to any cultural influence impacting Muslim practices. They are greater opponents of mysticism, and reject ideas of saints and their shrines as unacceptable. This makes South Asian Islam as nothing short of heretical. Men and women must not mix with non-Muslims, give up any form of worship such as visits to Sufi shrines and abjure any act that could be construed as un-Islamic.

Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam that it has successfully marketed to millions across Asia, Africa and now Europe through generous financial payoffs and donations, has impacted younger population of Muslims in parts of India for last few years.

India has also over the years seen more and more Muslims, particularly the younger population, get attracted to preachings of ultra-conservative clerics. This is not to say that they are supporters of radical groups like the Islamic State and Taliban. But, the change in the complexion of discourse within sections of Muslim population, their responses and growing assertion of some people that there is need to abandon centuries old brand of South Asian Islam are a natural consequence of years of government indifference, some complicity and failure to recognise what/how Saudi money was actually contributing to a change in the way many Muslims think.

A few months ago Oman flagged concern about growing radicalisation of thousands of Muslim workers from India in the Gulf country.

The growing pressure of Wahabis to push their conservative ideology has disturbed sections of Sunnis in India and a few months ago some of its leaders sought government intervention to check its spread.

The Sunni Wakf Board fears that Wahabis could take over a majority of shrines and ‘dargahs’ of Sunnis allowing terror groups like IS inroads into the country. Wahabi clerics and preachers have had little difficulty in getting visas to address and influence congregations across the country.

Salafis in Bengaluru

In the last few years Salafis have managed to take root in large parts of the country including Benguluru which boasts of 42-odd Salafi mosques that preach ideas that are repugnant to centuries-old Islamic traditions in India. That it was not easy to set up Salafi mosques due to opposition from existing Islamic groups in Bengaluru is well acknowledged by the Salafi trust on its official website. “There were physical fights, social boycott, warnings and torture for the above members for bringing the Salafi methodology in their locality” before they managed to build Salafi mosques, states its official website.

Initial opposition later dissolved and they managed to expand their influence in the city and among its young population,

I recall meeting a young Muslim in Benguluru some years ago who was forthright in his criticism of his mother and sister’s “un-Islamic” acts of visiting Sufi shrines and praying at mazars of saints. He also minced no words to state his opposition to Shias terming them as non-Muslims. This young educated man was a regular at a Salafi mosque in Koramangala area, home to wealthy people such as Infosys and Wipro chiefs.

Kerala has for many years seen a subtle shift in the way women dress up, use of headscarves, and even design for new mosques. In fact, preachers from Muslim Brotherhood have had access to Kerala in last several years where institutions like the Islamic Mission Trust have used foreign funding to set up educational and social institutions to widen their reach and influence.

Salafi organisations like Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen have been around since 1950s but post-1992’s Babri Masjid demolition and the turn of the new century, they have witnessed growth and radicalisation of minds that is a matter of concern.

Al-Jamiya Al-Islamia in Malappuram (north Kerala) with well-defined objectives to provide leadership for teaching, training and research in Arabic Language and Literature has emerged as a new institution that preaches conservative Islam. Saudi Arabia pledged millions of Saudi Riyals to them ostensibly for constructing an arts and science college building. In 2003, it became a university “and a dream come true” when a celebrated international scholar Sheikh Yusuful Qardawi declared it a university. Qardawi, now in exile in Qatar, belongs to Muslim Brotherhood. According to international websites he is known for his militant religious rulings and political commentary in support of acts of terrorism and repression of women.

It also pledged one million Saudi Riyal to the construction of a nursing college. A similar amount was also pledged to Palghat Mujahideen Arabic College Committee in Kerala for the purpose of extending an existing medical college and the Karuma hospital building.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, Saudi Riyals were donated to establish a madrasa building and a vocational centre for girls in Mirzapur and Siddharth Nagar. Schools and colleges with Arabic names prominently stick out across western UP today. Attempts to also link Muslim identity with Saudi Arabia, reminiscent of what happened in Pakistan, need to be addressed politically and ideologically.

UP, Kerala and Karnataka examples merely illustrate how ultra-conservative ideas alien to Muslims in India are now getting greater attention and following among sections of Muslims because of inadequate political understanding and response. Political parties in India that claim to be flag-bearers of secularism need to look beyond short term electoral gains to formulate a response to Wahabis and Salafis gaining mindspace among sections of world’s third largest Muslim population.

The writer is a former BBC journalist

‘Women ultimate victims of this war’: A Palestinian and an Israeli mother share their grief

Robi and Bushra are part of The Parents Circle — Families Forum, a group of grieving family members of those who have lost someone during the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Robi Damelin, 78, and Bushra Awad, 46,

When Robi Damelin, 78, went to meet Bushra Awad, 46, at her parent’s home, Bushra was not prepared. A grieving Bushra had just recently lost her son Mahmud to shell fire in Palestine, and found it hard to control that grief. “Bushra’s friend had invited a few Palestinian mothers and me on that day, and I think that Bushra was tricked into coming. She did not know that I would be there. When we met, I think she had an emotional breakthrough. I think she realised that what I felt was probably what she was feeling,” says Robi. Bushra remembers the day vividly, she was agitated that a Jew had entered the room. “I simply wanted to leave. But when Robi came to me, and told me that she shares the same pain with me, I let the tears flow,” says Bushra.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Robi and Bushra are part of The Parents Circle — Families Forum, a group of grieving family members of those who have lost someone during the Israel-Palestine conflict. The powerful reconciliation of the two grieving mothers is recorded in the documentary ‘One Day After Peace’. In India to be a part of Tina Brown’s ‘Women In The World’ conference, Robi and Bushra left the audience in tears. “Mahmud was the first happiness I knew, he was my life, and when I heard that he was hit and was taken to the hospital, I went out and ran. I ran aimlessly till my brother put me in a car. He said that Mahmud was fine, but when I reached the hospital, my husband was beating his head. When they told me Mahmud was no more, I did not know what that meant,” remembers Bushra. Mahmud, who was preparing to graduate from school, fell down to a sniper’s bullet in 2008. Robi, on the other hand, lost David in 2002. He had hesitatingly enlisted for the army, and was at a politically-sensitive checkpost when he and nine others fell to Palestinian bullets. “I think as soon as the soldiers came in to tell me about David, I told them that you may not kill anybody in the name of my child,” says Robi. Two days later, the checkpost was broken down. Today, both women go to different countries, and speak at seminars, gatherings and peace resolution conferences. In most of these seminars, grieving mothers tend to move things forward. “Nobody ever asks a woman if we should go to war. Or, shall we now sign a ceasefire, or god forbid, a peace treaty. And, women are the ultimate victims to this war. I think it is time that women come to the table. We always find this bond, and this bond is strong with mothers,” says Robi. Robi says that no country should take sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict. “I don’t want anybody to take sides in this conflict. In countries with large Jewish and Muslim populations, people take sides and import our conflict into their countries, creating hatred amongst the Muslims and Jews in their own countries,” she says. Bushra, on the other hand, found the most effective way to stop her younger son from joining the war. “He would not listen to me and would go out on protests, and stone the Israeli soldiers. Then, one day, I started joining him. I said, if you die, I will die with you. He doesn’t go out anymore,” says Bushra. You can watch the the trailer of ‘One Day After Peace’ here:Watch Robi speak at the ‘Women In The World Conference’:

Assam Guv PB Acharya stokes controversy with alleged ‘divisive’ remarks

“Hindustan is for Hindus. There is nothing wrong with that. Hindus from different countries can stay here. They cannot be outsiders,” the Governor was quoted as saying by media.

Acharaya today said that what he meant was that all Indian-origin people, including Muslims, persecuted in any foreign lands were welcome in the country.

Image Courtesy: Twitter (ANI)
Assam Governor P B Acharya has stoked a controversy after he reportedly said that “Hindustan is for Hindus”, drawing sharp criticism from Congress which alleged that it was reflective of the divisive ideology of RSS and BJP which has led to incidents like Dadri lynching. Acharya’s attempt today to clarify the alleged remarks he made yesterday at a book launch function further stirred the row after he said that “Muslims in India are free to go anywhere”.”Hindustan is for Hindus. There is nothing wrong with that. Hindus from different countries can stay here. They cannot be outsiders,” the Governor was quoted as saying by media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As his reported remarks came under fire, Acharaya today said that what he meant was that all Indian-origin people, including Muslims, persecuted in any foreign lands were welcome in the country. “We should keep in our mind, only because a person is persecuted because of his religion in any country, if Indian Christian is persecuted in Pakistan, he has to come to India. Where else will he go? Indian Christian, Indian Buddhist, Indian Jain, Indian Hindu. “If a European Christian is persecuted or a European Hindu…if he is persecuted in Belgium, he cannot come to India…”Indian Muslims are free to go anywhere. They can stay here if they want to stay here, many have gone to Pakistan. If they want to go to Pakistan, Bangladesh, they are free to. If they are persecuted there, Taslima Nasreen (author) was persecuted there, she came here. If they come we’ll give them shelter. India is big-hearted,” he said.Congress today termed Acharya’s remarks as “unfortunate and shocking” as they came from a person holding a “constitutional post”. “It is clearly indicative of the way RSS and BJP functionaries think and continue to think even when they are in a constitutional post. Bondage or umbilical cords with parent remote organisations, be it RSS and BJP should be severed when you assume a Constitutional post,” he said. Singhvi said that the same ideology and philosophy has led to a culture of absolute divisiveness, intolerance, mutual enmity, trust deficit in the last 18 months and incidents like Dadri. “You have been hearing from MPs, MLAs, ministers and now from Governor,” he said.

From reservation to liberal politics: Thought leaders bring burning issues under the scanner

New Delhi: Is India truly liberal? Has reservation policy really helped those for whom it was meant? Is there any space for liberal politics? Is religious and cultural freedom in India too little?

Many such questions came up during brainstorming sessions at a day-long seminar on ‘Liberalism in India: Past, Present and Future’ in Delhi on Friday.

Organised by the Centre for Civil Society as a mark of tribute to SV Raju (1933-2015), former editor of Freedom First magazine, who was also the executive secretary of the Swatantra Party, which at one time was the second largest party in the Parliament — one that challenged the Nehruvian consensus prevalent at the time.

Rethinking reservations

Though RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that “reservations system needs to be reviewed” had created a political storm during Bihar election, the key speaker on ‘Towards a liberal India: Rethinking reservation’, Surjit Bhalla said, “Mohan Bhagwat’s comment was surprisingly sensible. It was the media, Lalu Prasad and politicians of his ilk played it up and criticized it. In fact, what Bhagwat wanted to say whether reservations really helping those for whom it was meant?”

R Jagannathan at the seminar in Delhi on Friday. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

R Jagannathan at the seminar in Delhi on Friday. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

“Today, the question is whether reservation system really benefits as the Constitution claims and what happened to Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh OBCs?” questioned Bhalla, chairman and managing director, Oxus Investments, a Delhi-based economic research firm. Presenting NSSO data to justify his point, Bhalla said Muslims drastically lacked behind their counterpart Hindus on the index of education attainment in 2011, because the former were deprived of the benefits of reservation system.

Taking the discussion further, Geeta Gouri, former member, Competition Commission of India, added, “When a state benefits a particular group (say caste), it lays the basis of corruption. Corruption is always due to cartels. We’ve the policies so designed that benefits don’t trickle down and reach the beneficiary. State’s support and policy intervention is must to ensure that benefits do reach the target beneficiaries. Helping one small group won’t help the objective of welfare schemes. Like, the subsidies are for the politicians and not for the people who actually need it.”

She also emphasised strict monitoring of what “so-called civil society NGOs (are) doing and where the money goes”.

Religious and cultural freedom

Focussing on some of the recent controversies like religious conversions (Ghar wapsi), bans on books, Dadri lynching case, consuming beef, etc, the discussion on ‘Religious and cultural freedom in India: Both too little and too much’ questioned the ambit of the freedom of religion.

R Jagannathan, senior journalist and former editor-in-chief, Firstpost said that on one hand the basic individual freedoms are at stake, and on the other the religious freedoms are being interpreted by governments to mean that nothing should ever be done to offend any group or community. “Kowtowing to religious groups has resulted in a severe curtailment of fundamental rights, including rights of free speech and expression in which the derivative freedom of religion is rooted.”

“On the other hand, there is too much freedom – license, in fact—given in the name of religious freedom. Loud music and processions disrupt everyday life—religious events, azaans delivered on loud speakers, religious congregations spilling out into streets and encroachments on civic rights,” he pointed out.

Referring to recent Bihar election, Jagannathan added, “Electoral success coming to multi-religious parties by appeasing small groups. In Bihar, the Yadavs and the OBCs were the most benefited lot, whereas Muslims were the least. But, this time both the most benefitted and the least joined hands. Castes are used only to gain political mileage, and now-a-days due to this debate on majority-minority groups, everyone wants to be a minority. Now due to capturing of religious and cultural space by groups and cabals, the individual freedom is getting curbed.”

Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow, American Enterprise Institute questioned, “Why even in 70 years’ of Independence, could a uniform civil code not be implemented?”

Liberalism for whom?

Another key speaker Barun Mitra, founder-director, Liberty Institute, observed that liberalism has a strong intellectual root, with well thought out perspectives on economic, political and social spheres on the basis of individual rights and liberty. “Unfortunately, it has not been easy to translate these principles into effective political campaigns—to attract the wider population.”

Answering to why liberals didn’t succeed in making it at political platform, he said, “Do you think the ordinary people can understand liberal principles and economic freedom? In fact, the liberals failed to understand the mass, the common man, because, we the liberals think we’re ideals and we’ve the solution. There is a ‘dumb them down’ approach towards the common man.”

Citing Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha to reaching out to the millions, Mitra added, “If politics is anything, it’s mass marketing of ideas. As Mr Raju spent entire life in building liberal political idea, can we do it? For this we need empathy, credibility to win over reservation battle and ability to identify ourselves with the people at the receiving end.”

Discussant Gurcharan Das, former CEO, Procter and Gamble India and author, remarked, “A liberal talks about creation of investment climate, building of infrastructure, etc, whereas, a mainstream politician announces populist measures like promising free electricity, which makes immediate impact amongst the voters. Modi came to power with a landslide victory not due to Hindutva votes, but because average person from Tier-II and III town could connect to his appeal.”

Liberalism in India: Past, Present and FutureLiberalism in India: Past, Present and Future

Is decentralisation, a chimera?

“Everyone wants decentralisation, but not everybody likes it to happen” – was the opening statement of JP Narayan, former bureaucrat and founder of Lok Satta Party. Carrying the discussion forward, he said, “Horizontal and vertical decentralisation protects liberty, as opposed to a centralised, totalitarian system, with a single locus of power. Local decision making gives citizens greater control over their lives and allows effective participation in democracy and governance. And, yet our Constitution and state structure have created a highly centralised, largely ineffective governance process. The failure of our nation-builders to reconcile the dramatically opposing views of Gandhiji and Ambedkar has proved very costly.”

Subir Gokarn, former deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India added, “Putting more money in local government without building proper capacity is problematic. Funds need to be rightly utilised.”

Why liberal parties fail?

According to Jaithirth Rao, founder & former CEO, MphasiS, “The idea of freebies and doling out goodies by political parties always end up being more popular in comparison to liberal position that supports a minimalist non-interventionist state and agency for individuals. In India, where poverty and deprivation exist in large-scale, politics of freebies succeed. And, all parties in India are identity-based like the CPI (M) in West Bengal is a Bengali party.”

Rao added with a pessimistic note, “There seems no scope for a liberal party… not possible as of now.”

Arguing on how can we get at least a half-liberal party or a coalition with liberal content in it, senior journalist, Swaminathan Aiyar said, “Most important is to have a good supply of public goods; effective supply of good education, health and law & order at a local level and equality of opportunity, which is horribly discriminating in India, and equality of opportunity.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that Congress was a party with broad coalition of parties with different views and liberal socials. “Congress can accommodate different views,” added Tharoor.

Fight against intolerance will be balanced when Muslims eat pork in the open: Tripura governor Tathagata Roy

In one of the more controversial and communal statements made in the debate on intolerance in India, Tripura Governor and former president of the Bengal BJP Tathagata Roy has said that the fight against intolerance will only be balanced when Muslims have pork in the open.

Tathagata Roy. Image courtesy: @tathagata2/Twitter

Tathagata Roy. Image courtesy: @tathagata2/Twitter

“People have the right to eat what they want but the scales would be even when Muslims come out and have pork in the open. And that day, we can really call it war against intolerance,” Roy said in an exclusive interview to The Economic Times.

On being asked what he thought about the emergence of a ‘secular Grand Alliance’ in Bihar, Roy gave a vague answer and said that he does not accept the definition of the word ‘secular’.

Roy is infamous for his communal remarks. He had earlier said that many of the people present at the funeral of Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon after he was hanged were “potential terrorists”.

“Intelligence should keep a tab on all (except relatives and friends) who assembled before Memon’s corpse. Many are potential terrorists,” Roy had tweeted.

Later, Roy, while responding to questions, had said that he had excluded Memon’s relatives and friends. “Why did others come to see a man who was hanged? They must have sympathy for him,” he had said.

In another tweet, the governor had said, “It is my constitutional duty to bring matter of public interests to public notice. My position as governor is not thereby compromised.”

Facing criticism that he appeared to target a particular community, Roy had defended his tweet with another post, “When I suggested intelligence keeping a tab, I mentioned no community.”

Roy had been appointed as Tripura Governor in May. He had previously posted controversial tweets on Gujarat riots, ‘love jihad’ and the Hindu population.

When he had spoken to journalists after taking oath as Tripura Governor, he had said he would not allow his personal views to come in the way of discharging his official duties as governor and that he will leave “no room for political affinity”.

Asked about his pro-Hindutva views, he had said, “That was a different person, a political person, I said things which my politics dictated, my beliefs dictated. I don’t regret them. But after becoming Governor, I have constitutional duties.”

Clearly, though, nothing seems to have changed about Tathagata Roy.

With inputs from PTI

Mani Shankar Aiyar, Salman Khurshid behaving like ISI, IS ‘propagandists’: BJP

New Delhi: BJP on Tuesday accused Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid of behaving like ISI, IS or Taliban “propagandists” and asked the party to come clean on whether it subscribed to their views.

Hitting out at them for their controversial comments, BJP said that they are trying to gain lost ground by visiting ISI headquarters which is an “insult to India and its nationalist Muslims”.

Mani Shankar Aiyar. ReutersMani Shankar Aiyar. Reuters

Mani Shankar Aiyar. Reuters

“While the world is getting together against terrorism and Prime Minister’s words to fight against terrorism has been accepted the world over and it is in this context the G-20 Summit has happened.

“139 people have been killed in Paris in an open assault to civilisation and it seems that these people are behaving and conducting themselves as propagandists for ISI and IS or Taliban,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told a press conference.

“BJP strongly condemns such anti-national acts of the Congress party and seeks an explanation from their leadership about these critical issues,” she said.

She added that even when the world is condemning terrorism “they have no shame in standing by the wrong forces”.

Lekhi said those who have lost elections are trying to gain lost ground by visiting the ISI headquarters. “That is an insult to the nationalist Muslims of this country and that is an insult to their nationality, which is India and Indians.”

“When it comes to condemnation, at least Azam Khan’s statement was condemned by the SP and they dissociated themselves completely from him. Whereas Congress party has chosen not to do so in this context,” the BJP leader said.

Lekhi said these leaders have engaged with anti-India agenda and praise the very forces who are working against the country, adding, “We must watch out for such elements the world over, especially in India.”

She attacked the Congress for “engineering” an atmosphere of intolerance that does not exist and said that it was part of a larger conspiracy.

“Creating an atmosphere of intolerance where none exists seems to be a larger conspiracy to divide people, polarise people and take the people away from the developmental agenda of the country,” she said.

Aiyar stoked a controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume. His comments evoked sharp reactions.

Khurshid had criticised the NDA government for adopting a tough stand towards Pakistan.

Lekhi said when Aiyar justifies Charlie Hebdo or recent terrorist attacks on Paris, it is as tragic as the events themselves.

After the Paris attacks, Aiyar had said, “The anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in Western countries should be stopped immediately. Muslims living in France should be provided with the assurance that they are also citizens of the country.”

Terming Aiyar as a “national disgrace”, Lekhi said the people of India ought to condemn such a mindset that promotes hate and disharmony.

“The recent statement by Salman Khurshid in Pakistan criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and praising Nawaz Sharif displays his despicable character. He is a habitual offender in the business of dividing us Indians, on communal lines,” she said.

“Despite this we have a hate-India constituency within India which has been attacking our resolve to fight communally divisive forces. Be it Digvijay Singh providing cover to Hafiz Saeed by blaming RSS for the 26/11 carnage or calling Osama bin Laden as “Osamaji” or Congress Defence Minister A K Antony describing Pakistani terrorists as ‘merely dressed in Pakistani Army uniforms’,” she said.

Lekhi attacked the Congress-led UPA by saying, “The former government of the country was working and promoting a communally divisive agenda in some form or the other which most recently has been polarisation.”

“This is a direct insult to the Muslim fraternity of the country as the Congress party seems to believe that they are incapable of sound decision making. The quintessential question to ask then is- What has the Congress party done for the betterment of the minorities of the country in terms of their socio-economic development,” she questioned.

She added that while the world is fighting against terror, there are certain people who not only support such acts but come out openly against people who are right thinking.

Lekhi also took a jibe at Khurshid, saying he was standing with someone (Sharif) who had termed India’s former Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) as “dehati aurat” (village woman) when Khurshid was the country’s foreign minister.

“This is the same person who goes and engages himself with anti-India agenda and praises the very forces who are working against the country,” she said.

The BJP leader said an “unncessary” debate is sought to be created in India which is a modern polity with a Constitution and state laws in operation.

“These are the people who have been discredited by people of this country on nationalistic grounds, the way they have conducted themselves on past governance and today they seek some sort of importance by visiting a foreign and condemning their own Prime Minister which is against the nationalistic fervour of this country,” she said.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar said that Aiyar “has lost his mental balance” and his remarks are not only an insult to the Prime Minister of the country but the entire country.

“It is the politics of Pakistan which is not allowing the talks. Saying all this, it an insult to the nation and the Prime Minister. Azam Khan had in a way supported terrorism and the attacks in Paris saying every action has its reaction,” he said.

PTI

Mani Shankar Aiyo: Congress leader says Modi must be removed for proper Indo-Pak talks

‘We all know that Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid are habitual offenders, vis-‘-vis Pakistan is concerned and they have always spoken high of Pakistan and low of India,’ he added. Patra condemned Aiyar’s remark and called it ‘absolutely appalling’.

File Photo

Former Union minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar stoked a fresh controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume. The Congress leader’s comments evoked sharp response from BJP and RJD, with the saffron outfit saying Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi should react to this and let the country know their stand on the issue.The Congress, however, said BJP’s charges were “absolute nonsense” and that Aiyar communicated to the party that he had not said any such thing. When the anchor of Duniya TV asked what is to be done to end the stalemate in the relations between the two nations, Aiyar responded, “The first and the foremost thing is to remove Modi. Only then can the talks move forward. We have to wait for four more years. They (panelists) are all optimist and that we can move forward when Modi sahab is there, but I don’t think so.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He further said, “Bring us (the Congress) back to power and remove them. There is no other way (to better the relations). We will remove them, but till then you (Pakistan) have to wait.” Sought his reaction to the issue, Congress leader Tom Vaddakan said, “This is absolutely nonsense. I have a letter with me written by Mr Aiyer in which he categorically denies saying anything like that. So there is no question of distancing from it.”The BJP termed it as an “extremely serious, worrisome and completely incorrect.” “What is even more worrisome is that two senior Congress leaders, first Salman Khurshid, who is the former External Affairs Minister, and now Mani Shankar Aiyar, within a week’s span have given such a statement in a nation which is clearly anti-India and has even perpetrated terror in India.”Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should react to this and let the country know its stand on the issue,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said. Attacking Aiyar for the statement, RJD’s Manoj Jha said even somebody with “minimum sanity” will condemn this statement. “Even a kindergarten student will not issue such a statement,” he said. Aiyar had last week created a controversy with his remarks in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.Reacting to the attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately. The Muslims living in France should be provided with the assurance that they are also citizens of the country.” In addition to expressing remorse, Aiyar said, “we should also think that why this situation has raised?”

Cong disapproves Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks on Paris attacks; seeks Azam Khan’s sacking

Reacting to the terror attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately.”

“We do not want to associate with Mani Shankar Aiyar’s statements,” said Congress

File Photo
Congress on Monday disassociated itself from party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s statement in the wake of the Paris terror attacks even as it demanded “immediate removal” of Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan for his controversial remarks on the strikes. Congress’ senior spokesperson Ajay Maken also demanded that Union minister VK Singh be removed from the council of ministers for his remarks that the debate over intolerance was an “unnecessary” creation of very imaginative minds being “paid with a lot of money”. “We do not want to associate with Mani Shankar Aiyar. He should make statements after careful consideration. In no way, you can justify… It was an inhuman action in which so many people have been killed,” Maken said at the AICC briefing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to the terror attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately. The Muslims living in France should be provided with the assurance that they are also citizens of the country.” In addition to expressing remorse, Aiyar said, “we should also think that why this situation has raised?” Slamming UP minister Khan for his remarks that the “superpowers” should think whether it was a “reaction” to the “killing of innocents” in Arab countries, Maken said, Khan gives himself “tough competition in making senseless remarks again and again”.Criticising Union minister Singh, the Congress spokesman said, “We want to ask Singh whether he considered the President, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan or the Dalai Lama who have raised questions with regard to this atmosphere of intolerance as ‘paid’?”Maken said though the Union minister was in BJP and the UP minister in Samajwadi Party, they represented “blatant mainstreaming of the fringe that has happened in recent months”. Making a strong pitch for immediate removal of Singh and Khan, he said both of them are “very important” ministers and this was not for the first time that they have made controversial comments.Noting BJP claims “it is the voice of fringe elements” when confronted with controversial statements of leaders like Singh, the Congress leader said, “And if they are fringe voices, then they are continuously allowed to speak in this manner and no action is being taken against them. Then gradually, they are becoming the mainstream voices. Gradually they are becoming the main voices of the party.” Claiming that both BJP and SP are “complementary” to each other in politics, he said both are attempting to “hoodwink” the country.

#dnaEdit: Jolts in Kerala politics- KM Mani’s bribery scandal and the resurgence of CPI-M

The corruption scandal around KM Mani and the resurgence of the CPI-M in the local polls are shifting poll equations in the southern state.

Image courtesy: Kerala Assembly website

Close on the heels of its recent panchayat poll defeat, the Congress-led UDF government has now lurched towards a fresh controversy even before it could review its electoral performance. The seriousness of the charges against Kerala Congress (M) leader KM Mani, of extracting bribes from bar owners, could well upset the calculations of next year’s assembly polls. In the wake of concerns expressed by the Kerala high court about the integrity of the bribery probe as long as Mani occupied the state’s finance minister’s post, the Congress leader has resigned. But by backing Mani for so long, the Congress has ended up damaging itself and failing to address important political developments that have been unfolding in the state. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent panchayat poll outcome mirrors the volatility in the state’s politics and the challenges facing both the UDF and its main opponent LDF. After years of incessant factional infighting, the CPI-M was expected to do poorly in these polls, losing the support of the OBC Ezhava caste to a resurgent BJP. But the spate of recent controversies has finally pushed the party to fire on all cylinders and script a comeback act. The CPI-M-led LDF won a majority of gram and block panchayats, while sharing control of other local bodies almost equally, with the UDF. The BJP’s hopes of a Hindu consolidation, on the other hand, were dashed, with the party doing marginally better in the Hindu-dominated Thiruvananthapuram corporation and the Palakkad municipality. But the BJP’s marginal rise is not what captures the real story of the polls. Of crucial significance is how the opposing fronts, the LDF and the UDF, have tackled the new challenge posed by an ascendant BJP. The Congress’s gameplan rested on a split in Hindu votes, and sailing home with the help of minority votes as well as a slice of Hindu votes it hoped to secure. Unlike the arithmetic strategy of the Congress, the CPI-M launched a direct political campaign against communalisation of politics. The party’s veteran leader VS Achuthanandan, staring at his own irrelevance after being dropped from top party forums, was drafted back into the party to lead the LDF charge. He frontally targeted the BJP for its beef politics, the Congress for corruption, and the SNDP leader Vellapally Natesan, for an old murder allegation. The CPI-M’s vigorous campaign paid off. In most of the 34 wards recently won by the BJP in Thiruvananthapuram, the UDF was pushed to the third spot: a clear indication of Congress votes shifting to the BJP. In its silence, the Congress appeared to contribute to an important BJP victory. While, by overtly criticising all hues of communal politics, the CPI-M shored up its Ezhava vote base, scoring impressive wins even in the Muslim League-dominated Malappuram district. Unlike in West Bengal, where Muslims used to be integral to the CPI-M’s support base, the Left in Kerala has largely been unable to break the stronghold of the Congress, the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress, among Muslims and Christians constituting nearly 50% of the state’s population. The difference in vote share between the LDF at 37.36 and UDF at 37.23 is minimal, indicating the closeness of the contest. The BJP’s vote share, on the other hand, steadily increasing from 6.4% to 10.3% in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, now stands at 13.27% in the local polls. This rapidly shifting political dynamic in Kerala has set the stage for an electrifying assembly election campaign in 2016.

Travancore Maharaja’s Temple Entry Proclamation and what it means to Kerala 80 years later

On November 12, 1936, the birthday of the young Maharaja of Travancore, Sri Chitra Thirunal Balarama Varma, he issued a proclamation in his capital, Trivandrum. The proclamation said, in its entirety:

‘Profoundly convinced of the truth and validity of our religion, believing that it is based on divine guidance and on all-comprehending toleration, knowing that in its practice it has throughout the centuries, adapted itself to the needs of changing times, solicitous that none of our Hindu subjects should, by reason of birth or caste or community, be denied the consolation and the solace of the Hindu faith, we have decided and hereby declare, ordain and command that, subject to such rules and conditions as may be laid down and imposed by us for preserving their proper atmosphere and maintaining their rituals and observances, there should henceforth be no restriction placed on any Hindu by birth or religion on entering or worshipping at temples controlled by us and our Government.’

To us today, this may seem commonplace, but for that time and place it was revolutionary. For this was Travancore, which Swami Vivekananda had called “a lunatic asylum” for the indignities heaped on its lower castes. Today, Kerala is probably the least (overtly) casteist part of the country, although it is almost certainly the most (covertly) communal part as well. But nobody questions egalitarianism. This edict was as powerful as the ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.
But just as the revolution had its dark side, so does Kerala’s social revolution: the egalitarianism of this proclamation brought with it a reverse discrimination, so that today the Hindus are at the receiving end of what is for all practical purposes an apartheid: in every way, they are behind the Christians and Muslims, who also benefit from official benefits for them.

Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/FirstpostImage: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

At the entrance to the Travancore royal palace on the 103rd birthday of Sri Chitra Tirunal. on 10 November, 2015. Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

Be that as it may, a little history lesson is in order. What is now Kerala was, like most of South India around 1500 years ago, heavily Buddhist and Jain: and there are occasional discoveries of seated Buddhas by farmers tilling the fields. There is evidence from Xieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler, who described his trip to Sabarimala where he said the presiding deity was worshipped simultaneously as both Siva and the Avalokitesvara Padmapani.

And I am quoting Communist leader EMS Namboodiripad, so those of you about to outrage at me may calm down. An army of Hindus arrived circa 600CE, headed by Nambudiri Brahmins and defeated the Buddhists, imposing Hindu culture again over the area. Those Buddhists who collaborated became ‘high-caste’ sudras (eg Nairs), and those that didn’t became ‘low-caste’ (eg Ezhavas). This invasion is immortalized in the story of Mahabali, who ‘ruled over a kingdom where all were equal’, and was sent to Patala: thus exiled.

This situation continued for over a thousand years, partly because it was a stable equilibrium wherein all parties knew their roles in society, even those who were oppressed and at the bottom of the pile as feudal peasant untermenschen. There were also small groups of Christians (the first of them arrived around 345CE, contrary to popular mythology, as refugees led by Thomas of Canaan, a Syrian merchant), Jews, and Muslims.

The next big disruption was when the Portuguese, instigated by Francis Xavier, invaded and converted at gunpoint most of the coastal fisherfolk. They were annoyed to find the Syrian Christians who had never heard of the Pope (their allegiance was to the Patriarch of Antioch, Syria) and so proceeded to persecute and forcibly convert them as well.

Next came Tipu Sultan around 1790. He conquered Malabar and parts of Cochin, but was thwarted from entering Travancore by the use of a ‘river bomb’, wherein Travancore soldiers purposely burst a dam, causing a wall of water to course down the Periyar river. This flooded Tipu’s batteries and killed his troops, forcing him to retreat. But Tipu’s advance had caused a large number of Hindus to flee persecution and settle in Travancore. Many Hindus were also converted at swordpoint.

The net result of Tipu’s invasion was that Travancore became impoverished and thus dependent on the British, who took full advantage of the situation. They forced the regent queen in 1819 to donate Rs. 10,000 (an astronomical sum then) to set up the Valiya Palli church at Kottayam, and large-scale conversions of Hindus began, because they offered poor, low-caste people basic education if they converted.

In 1819, there were, according to the Travancore Manual, 6% Muslims and 6% Christians in Travancore. But under the stress of British overlordship, high tributes extracted by them, and the threat of conversion, paradoxically Hindu society turned destructively inwards and became dysfunctional, even suicidal. Lower castes bore the brunt of it, leading to extraordinary practices such as not only untouchability, but also un-seeability. Also, bizarrely precise laws of untouchability and even un-shadowability were in effect: a Nair must stand at least 5 feet away from a Nambudiri, an Ezhava 10 feet, a Pulaya 15 feet, and so on.

One of the most ridiculous laws prevented lower-caste Hindus from not only going to temples, but even walking on the public roads around them. Unbelievably, they had a simple way around it: just convert, and then you can use the public roads. Thus a Sankaran merely had to become a Thomas or a Bashir, and he could automatically enjoy a lot more freedom! As a result of all this, by 1930, Travancore was 33% Christian, up from 6% in 1819: Ezhavas and Nadars converted in huge numbers (data from the Travancore Manual).

Increasing awareness of their rights by the lower-castes, especially the Ezhavas, led to agitations for more rights, including entry into government jobs and the Praja-sabha (Assembly) for them. The leadership of Sree Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asan ensured this anger was constructive, and not destructive. But the Vaikom Satyagraha, 1924, about access to the roads around the Vaikom Siva temple, crystallized the anger, and Ezhavas began to discuss en masse conversion to Christianity.

It was in this situation that the wise Maharaja, supported by his brilliant prime minister C P Ramaswamy Iyer, decided that natural justice and sheer decency indicated that temple entry should be granted. Thus the events of November 12, 1936. All Hindus could now, with dignity, go to all temples. In fact, police officers were required to escort low-caste people there. A great-uncle of mine, a dentist, recounted how the very lowest caste people had been led to believe that their eyes would burst if they entered temples, and so it was necessary to demonstrate to them that no such thing would happen.

The net result of all this, unfortunately, was that the previously oppressed became enamored with the siren song of radical egalitarianism and became Communists. To this day, they remain so, thus enabling Communism to retain a foothold in Kerala.

The royals of Travancore, who ruled as regents to the real sovereign Sri Padmanabha, had defeated the Dutch (Colachel 1741) and Tipu (Aluva 1790), and remained one of the best kingdoms in the country, retrieved their lost honor by this far-sighted and bold move in 1936. It was a landmark declaration, no less remarkable than the successes of human rights movements elsewhere.

Travancore’s temple entry proclamation of 1936 for ‘lower’ castes: Why nobody questions egalitarianism in Kerala

On November 12, 1936, the birthday of the young Maharaja of Travancore, Sri Chitra Thirunal Balarama Varma, he issued a proclamation in his capital, Trivandrum. The proclamation said, in its entirety:

‘Profoundly convinced of the truth and validity of our religion, believing that it is based on divine guidance and on all-comprehending toleration, knowing that in its practice it has throughout the centuries, adapted itself to the needs of changing times, solicitous that none of our Hindu subjects should, by reason of birth or caste or community, be denied the consolation and the solace of the Hindu faith, we have decided and hereby declare, ordain and command that, subject to such rules and conditions as may be laid down and imposed by us for preserving their proper atmosphere and maintaining their rituals and observances, there should henceforth be no restriction placed on any Hindu by birth or religion on entering or worshipping at temples controlled by us and our Government.’

To us today, this may seem commonplace, but for that time and place it was revolutionary. For this was Travancore, which Swami Vivekananda had called “a lunatic asylum” for the indignities heaped on its lower castes. Today, Kerala is probably the least (overtly) casteist part of the country, although it is almost certainly the most (covertly) communal part as well. But nobody questions egalitarianism. This edict was as powerful as the ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.
But just as the revolution had its dark side, so does Kerala’s social revolution: the egalitarianism of this proclamation brought with it a reverse discrimination, so that today the Hindus are at the receiving end of what is for all practical purposes an apartheid: in every way, they are behind the Christians and Muslims, who also benefit from official benefits for them.

Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/FirstpostImage: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

At the entrance to the Travancore royal palace on the 103rd birthday of Sri Chitra Tirunal. on 10 November, 2015. Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

Be that as it may, a little history lesson is in order. What is now Kerala was, like most of South India around 1500 years ago, heavily Buddhist and Jain: and there are occasional discoveries of seated Buddhas by farmers tilling the fields. There is evidence from Xieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler, who described his trip to Sabarimala where he said the presiding deity was worshipped simultaneously as both Siva and the Avalokitesvara Padmapani.

And I am quoting Communist leader EMS Namboodiripad, so those of you about to outrage at me may calm down. An army of Hindus arrived circa 600CE, headed by Nambudiri Brahmins and defeated the Buddhists, imposing Hindu culture again over the area. Those Buddhists who collaborated became ‘high-caste’ sudras (eg Nairs), and those that didn’t became ‘low-caste’ (eg Ezhavas). This invasion is immortalized in the story of Mahabali, who ‘ruled over a kingdom where all were equal’, and was sent to Patala: thus exiled.

This situation continued for over a thousand years, partly because it was a stable equilibrium wherein all parties knew their roles in society, even those who were oppressed and at the bottom of the pile as feudal peasant untermenschen. There were also small groups of Christians (the first of them arrived around 345CE, contrary to popular mythology, as refugees led by Thomas of Canaan, a Syrian merchant), Jews, and Muslims.

The next big disruption was when the Portuguese, instigated by Francis Xavier, invaded and converted at gunpoint most of the coastal fisherfolk. They were annoyed to find the Syrian Christians who had never heard of the Pope (their allegiance was to the Patriarch of Antioch, Syria) and so proceeded to persecute and forcibly convert them as well.

Next came Tipu Sultan around 1790. He conquered Malabar and parts of Cochin, but was thwarted from entering Travancore by the use of a ‘river bomb’, wherein Travancore soldiers purposely burst a dam, causing a wall of water to course down the Periyar river. This flooded Tipu’s batteries and killed his troops, forcing him to retreat. But Tipu’s advance had caused a large number of Hindus to flee persecution and settle in Travancore. Many Hindus were also converted at swordpoint.

The net result of Tipu’s invasion was that Travancore became impoverished and thus dependent on the British, who took full advantage of the situation. They forced the regent queen in 1819 to donate Rs. 10,000 (an astronomical sum then) to set up the Valiya Palli church at Kottayam, and large-scale conversions of Hindus began, because they offered poor, low-caste people basic education if they converted.

In 1819, there were, according to the Travancore Manual, 6% Muslims and 6% Christians in Travancore. But under the stress of British overlordship, high tributes extracted by them, and the threat of conversion, paradoxically Hindu society turned destructively inwards and became dysfunctional, even suicidal. Lower castes bore the brunt of it, leading to extraordinary practices such as not only untouchability, but also un-seeability. Also, bizarrely precise laws of untouchability and even un-shadowability were in effect: a Nair must stand at least 5 feet away from a Nambudiri, an Ezhava 10 feet, a Pulaya 15 feet, and so on.

One of the most ridiculous laws prevented lower-caste Hindus from not only going to temples, but even walking on the public roads around them. Unbelievably, they had a simple way around it: just convert, and then you can use the public roads. Thus a Sankaran merely had to become a Thomas or a Bashir, and he could automatically enjoy a lot more freedom! As a result of all this, by 1930, Travancore was 33% Christian, up from 6% in 1819: Ezhavas and Nadars converted in huge numbers (data from the Travancore Manual).

Increasing awareness of their rights by the lower-castes, especially the Ezhavas, led to agitations for more rights, including entry into government jobs and the Praja-sabha (Assembly) for them. The leadership of Sree Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asan ensured this anger was constructive, and not destructive. But the Vaikom Satyagraha, 1924, about access to the roads around the Vaikom Siva temple, crystallized the anger, and Ezhavas began to discuss en masse conversion to Christianity.

It was in this situation that the wise Maharaja, supported by his brilliant prime minister C P Ramaswamy Iyer, decided that natural justice and sheer decency indicated that temple entry should be granted. Thus the events of November 12, 1936. All Hindus could now, with dignity, go to all temples. In fact, police officers were required to escort low-caste people there. A great-uncle of mine, a dentist, recounted how the very lowest caste people had been led to believe that their eyes would burst if they entered temples, and so it was necessary to demonstrate to them that no such thing would happen.

The net result of all this, unfortunately, was that the previously oppressed became enamored with the siren song of radical egalitarianism and became Communists. To this day, they remain so, thus enabling Communism to retain a foothold in Kerala.

The royals of Travancore, who ruled as regents to the real sovereign Sri Padmanabha, had defeated the Dutch (Colachel 1741) and Tipu (Aluva 1790), and remained one of the best kingdoms in the country, retrieved their lost honor by this far-sighted and bold move in 1936. It was a landmark declaration, no less remarkable than the successes of human rights movements elsewhere.

When Lalu Prasad Yadav asked Muslim bodies not to issue fatwa

Two days after BJP-led NDA’s defeat in Bihar, at least six newly-elected legislators had descended into the grand building of Imarat Shariah in Phuwari Sharif, on the outskirts of the state capital. This unique socio-religious organisation of Muslims from Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha played a crucial link in consolidating Muslim votes behind the grand alliance.

Two days after BJP-led NDA’s defeat in Bihar, at least six newly-elected legislators had descended into the grand building of Imarat Shariah in Phuwari Sharif, on the outskirts of the state capital. This unique socio-religious organisation of Muslims from Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha played a crucial link in consolidating Muslim votes behind the grand alliance. Maulana Anisur Rahman Quasmi, secretary of Imarat after blessing visiting legislators Abdul Bari Sidique, Dr Shamim Ahmed, Madan Mohan Tiwari, Shyam Rajak, Syed Abu Dujana and Abdul Gafoor, tells dna that unlike in the past, the Imarat desisted from issuing any public appeal to Muslim community. The grand alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (U) and Congress secured 69% of Muslim votes against the 6% netted by the NDA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources in the RJD also said that keeping in view the attempts of communal polarisation being unleashed by none other than BJP president Amit Shah, Lalu Prasad Yadav had asked Imarat Shariah to use its influence on all Muslim organisations, asking them not to issue any appeal or fatwa in favour of grand alliance, lest it gives a handle to Shah. “Instead, he had asked them to work discretely on the ground, going door -to door to convey the message of voting unitedly,” he said. Lalu was particularly concerned that BJP will use ‘fatwa’ to create a fear psychosis amongst Hindus to counter his caste calculus and social engineering. Secretary general of All India Milli Couuncil Dr Manzoor Alam, who himself hails from Madhubani wanted to address a public meeting in favour of the grand alliance, but was discouraged by Lalu. “I had arranged the meeting, but got a call from Lalu telling me that instead of holding a public meeting, you should go around in Muslim localities to ask people not to waste their vote, by casting in favour of Asaduddin Owaisi’s candidates,” he told dna. It seems that RJD supremo was assiduously trying to prevent any division in his trump card that is an alliance of Muslim, Yadav, Kurmi and Koeri communities. Quasmi said the Imarat is “vehemently opposed to a division in society along religious or caste lines and has been fighting against it since 1921.” “We consider the divide of vote as per caste or religion detrimental to the interests of the country and try to discourage it. This divide is also detrimental to the interests of our community. But unfortunately, it is a harsh reality on the ground here,” he said. He added, not only preventing division, but a serious challenge was to ensure a large turnout in Muslim areas, because a low voter turnout was one of the reasons of defeat of Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress in the last elections. The consolidation has also helped in the election of 24 Muslim MLAs (10%), the highest since the bifurcation of the state. The 2010 assembly had 19 Muslim members. The highest ever figure in the past was 34 in undivided Bihar in 1985.Analyst and psephologist Abhay Kumar, believes that Bihar is one of such states where Muslim population is in a deciding position. But they got consolidated only due to the alliance among all the so-called secular parties. For him the lessons for the BJP are to overcome its over-confidence mentality. In 2016, the BJP has to face Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamild Nadu and Puducherry. Except Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, all other poll-bound states have considerable Muslim population. But, he believes that in absence of any grand alliance in these states, the BJP has good chance to improve its performance. “The BJP is on the verge of forming a government in Assam. It also has good chance to improve its performance in Kerala and West Bengal. But only if it overcomes its ‘over-confidence’ and rein in its motormouths and behave as a responsible centre-to-right national party,” maintains Kumar.

Bihar results is a wake-up call for Centre: Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah noted that the people want “real change” and are not impressed by the Prime Minister’s functioning.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah
File Photo
PTI
The Bihar Assembly election results was a “wakeup call” for the Centre, former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Tuesday, while expressing doubts whether the BJP-led NDA government would change its functioning after the drubbing it got.”This (Bihar election results) is not just a reply to divisive or communal forces, but a wake up call for the central government as well as their policies,” he told reporters at Anantnag.The leader, who was at Anantnag in south Kashmir, for the National Conference (NC)’s workers convention, noted that the people want “real change” and are not impressed by the Prime Minister’s functioning.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The way the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) himself ran the campaign of the BJP and addressed more than 30 public rallies, the way BJP president (Amit Shah) stay put in Bihar, the money that they spent, the number of Central ministers who campaigned in Bihar… their programmes and their way of functioning is not liked by the people and people want a change in the real sense,” he said.Omar, however expressed his doubts about the NDA government changing its functioning for the better in the aftermath of Bihar election results.”I have doubts that neither will these divisive forces change their work, nor is the central government ready to change or better its functioning,” he said.The National Conference working president said the Bihar results, which gave almost a three-fourth majority to the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance, was a befitting reply to communal and divisive forces.Speaking on the death of a youth in alleged security forces action at Zainakote here on November 8, the day the Prime Minister announced Rs 80,000 crore financial package for the state, Omar called for introspection by the government regarding the reasons behind the occurrence of such events.”The death of any youth in this manner is regrettable for all of us. However, much we condemn it, will be less. The present government will have to focus on as to why it is happening. The people, who came out, did not come out for any package,” he said.The NC leader also stressed on the need for addressing Kashmir issue politically.”The basic issue of Jammu and Kashmir is a political one. Till the time you address the issue politically, such protests will take place. And unfortunately, what we wanted to hear from the Prime Minister in Srinagar, we did not. I have this fear that instead of the situation getting any better, I see it worsening,” he said.Addressing the party workers earlier today, Omar said the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir the country’s only Muslim-majority state – felt “insecure and threatened” because of the PDP-BJP alliance and the platform given by the BJP to RSS in the state.”While the youth of Kashmir are robbed of the right to even criticize the BJP and RSS without being hounded and arrested, RSS is allowed to march with guns and swords on the streets of Jammu. What could be a more damning indictment of this government and that of Chief Minister (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed)?” he said.

New York Times editorial slams Modi, says ‘end hatemongering’ is Bihar’s message to PM

Washington, DC: Bihar’s electorate has sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi a message: “Put an end to hatemongering”, said The New York Times on Tuesday.

An editorial titled A rebuke to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in The New York Times said that during a national election in India last year, Modi promised “development for all”.

Narendra Modi in a file photo. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostNarendra Modi in a file photo. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Narendra Modi in a file photo. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

As prime minister, he has yet to deliver big economic improvements, “but in the meantime, members of his government and political party have shredded his promise of inclusion by inflaming sectarian tensions”.

“Now, voters in the country’s third most populous state have sent Modi a message: Put an end to the hatemongering,” said the daily.

The editorial said that “poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the country’s economic potential at a time when India should be playing a bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world”.

“India’s history is filled with examples of religious and caste-based violence that set the country back. Those conflicts subsided during India’s rapid economic growth, but many Indians now fear a resurgence.”

On Sunday, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost a legislative election in Bihar. A grand alliance of secular parties “united by their antipathy to the Hindu nationalist BJP” won 178 constituencies in the 243-member legislative assembly to the BJP’s 53.

The daily said that many political analysts see the loss as a “repudiation of Modi” because he and his top aides campaigned vigorously in the state and many ads carried his image, rather than photos of local politicians.

In the months leading up to the Bihar election, hardliners in the BJP and organizations affiliated with the party stoked India’s long-simmering sectarian tensions.

“The party’s lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, which many Hindus consider holy, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, some of whom eat beef.”

Mobs riled by the anti-beef crusade have killed four Muslims suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows in the last seven weeks. And in August, unidentified attackers shot and killed Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a scholar and vocal critic of Hindu idolatry. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers and academics have protested the growing intolerance by returning awards they received from the government-supported bodies.

NYT went on to say that Modi has “not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by BJP officials”.

During a campaign stop in Bihar, Modi “tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favour of ‘a particular community’ – an apparent reference to Muslims”.

And BJP president Amit Shah, one of Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan, the Muslim-majority neighbour that has fought several wars with India since 1947.

“Voters in Bihar saw through the BJP’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.”

The editorial said that Modi and the BJP secured a majority in the lower house of Parliament last year with promises of economic reforms.

“Now, to push through those reforms, the party needs to win the control of the upper house, which is elected by state assemblies. It won’t win those elections unless Modi gets rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars,” it added.

The daily noted that there are things Modi could do administratively to improve the economy, like investing in education and health care and building infrastructure. “Voters in Bihar have sent the BJP a clear message. Modi should heed it.”

IANS

Bihar elections 2015: 10 highlights in run up to polls

The barbs exchanged between PM Modi, Nitish Kumar and others.

–The Prime Minister Narendra Modi versus chief minister Nitish Kumar battle for Bihar went down to DNA barbs. Modi said there was a problem with Kumar’s DNA and the chief minister tried to turn it to his advantage saying his DNA was similar to that of Bihar. — Just ahead of announcement of election dates, Modi announced a Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package, which came in for criticism from chief minister Nitish Kumar who asked if he was auctioning Bihar. What followed was a verbal duel over statistics. – RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments seeking review of the reservation policy gave the Nitish-Lalu grand alliance fuel to take on the BJP in the state where caste equations have a sway over elections.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> – The BJP-led NDA later gave the reservation debate a communal twist saying Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav had conspired to give religious-based reservation diluting the quota of the SCs, STs and OBCs. – While the Mahagathbandhan projected Nitish Kumar as its chief ministerial candidate, the BJP refrained from putting up a face for the top post in the state. – Modi-led the NDA’s battle from the front holding 26 rallies across the state – The BJP targeted RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav saying that his return to power would bring back “jungle Raj” — Ahead of the fifth phase, which has a high concentration of Muslims, BJP chief Amit Shah said if the NDA lost, crackers would be burst in Pakistan. – Beef politics — The NDA took on Lalu over his beef comments and BJP even put out an advertisement in some Bihar papers on the last day of polling. The Election Commission sought an explanation from the party. In a vitriolic political battle, FIRs were filed against leaders of both alliances for hate speeches. – The Mahagathbandhan took on Modi with the Bihari versus Bahari debate

RSS for persuasion to control population, quotes Quran to drive home their message

The RSS also said that it is an favour of the current reservation policy but stressed that it should not be based on religion as it will be against the spirit of Constitution

RSS-Marchers

As a religion-based Census showed growth of Muslims was faster than Hindus, RSS on Friday said it will adopt a policy of persuasion through education to control population and quoted the ‘Quran’ to claim it favours small families for those who can’t afford to raise big ones.The RSS also said that it is an favour of the current reservation policy but stressed that it should not be based on religion as it will be against the spirit of Constitution. RSS said the issue of population control needs to be made religion-neutral and its affiliates will persuade communities including Muslims to strive for smaller families. “We want persuasion through education. Our members of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch have made studies and found quotations from the Quran, where it has been stated that if you are unable to rear your family, its size should be kept small and should be limited to what you can raise.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We feel it is a sage advice. It is a correct advice. This is the correct advice for every section of society. There is no other policy other than persuasion and we don’t want to repeat the Emergency days when things were done by force. Persuasion is the right way to do it,” RSS’s Delhi unit joint chief Alok Kumar told reporters. On the issue of reservation, he said, its aim was to lift such communities and sections that were under-privileged.”We are in favour of the current reservation. But we don’t consider reservation should be religion based and not consider it as per the Constitution,” he said.He said population policy should be religion-neutral, but steps need to be taken to check the imbalances. “I agree that population policy should remain religion-neutral. But where it has not been accepted, we feel persuasion efforts should be increased there. I want to re-emphasise that we have not raised any questions on the religion-neutral policy,” he said. “We feel there is a need to make all sections, especially the low-earning ones, understand that small family is for their good,” he said, adding that the Sangh will work on this and hoped the government will agree to its demands in taking effective steps to control population and remove imbalances.On Minorities, he said the views of RSS are very clear as it feels that all citizens of the country enjoy equal fundamental rights. He said during the three-day meet at Ranchi recently, RSS called for control on population and remove the imbalances created due to increase in population of certain sections.”Sangh is urging the governments to stop infiltration from borders, governments are working and society should be aware,” he said. He felt that infiltrators who cannot be pushed back immediately, their voting rights should be revoked so that they do not become votebanks.

Paradox lost? Pakistan expresses concern over ‘recent rise of extremism’ in India

The shoe, it would appear, is on the other foot now with Pakistan on Thursday releasing a statement that it was concerned about the “rise of extremism” in India, and the targeting of prominent Pakistani personalities and artists in the country.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Pakistan is concerned at the recent rise of extremism in India. We expect the international community to take note of it,” Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said at a media briefing in Islamabad.

“We have also expressed concern on disruption of functions of prominent Pakistani personalities and artists, scheduled in India, by Indian extremist organisations,” he said.

In fact, harsher words were used by Mohammad Sadiq, Secretary of Pakistan’s National Security Division, while he was speaking at a seminar in Islamabad. He said that the already tense India-Pakistan ties became even more complicated after Narendra Modi became prime minister as bilateral dialogue was suspended and the ‘Indian attitude towards Pakistan’ was marked with “belligerence and aggression”, according to a report in Dawn.

“The Hindu chauvinistic posture of Modi and his cabinet essentially caters to the sensitivities of their ideological fountainheads such as RSS and VHP. These militant groups in fact control the government’s actions,” the report quoted Sadiq as saying.

“India’s intransigence on Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues as it propagates its Hindutva agenda. This agenda now openly threatens millions of Muslims, Christians and other members of minority communities,” Sadiq further said.

He also said that India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was being used as part of a strategy to restrict China.

The 3,000-km-long CPEC aims to link China’s far-western region to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port (built with Chinese investment and technical expertise) and would provide 14,000 MW of electricity to the energy-starved Pakistan.

Once completed, the CPEC project would mean that the Chinese presence in Pakistan, including Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, becomes all pervasive and powerful. This, as Firstpost has noted in the past would be a nightmarish scenario for the Indian strategic establishment. India’s opposition to the CPEC also stems from the fact that Pakistan encouraging a project in PoK would worsen the notion that PoK is Pakistani territory.

With inputs from PTI

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.

Quran is being misinterpreted by Muslim men to have more than one wife: 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.
File Photo

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.

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.

Who’s afraid of Asaduddin Owaisi?

As Bihar got closer to election in 57 seats of the crucial fifth phase in the Seemanchal and Kosi belts, which have a high concentration of Muslims, political parties started shifting the focus of their campaign dialect from caste to creed.

On the road from Sheohar to Muzaffarpur, almost every hundred metres vehicles passed through Moharram processions of people with ash-smeared faces holding bamboo poles in their hands and chanting. Each time an elderly man in the group would nudge the mourners to move aside and stand between the vehicle and procession to allow the vehicle to pass.”You see there is no problem between communities…. It is politicians who vitiate the atmosphere,” said Alam, a taxi driver.As Bihar got closer to election in 57 seats of the crucial fifth phase in the Seemanchal and Kosi belts, which have a high concentration of Muslims, political parties started shifting the focus of their campaign dialect from caste to creed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the centre of the rhetoric of polarisation is All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi, whose fiery oratory revolves around Muslim identity politics. Interestingly, the performance of the BJP, which is raising its pitch on diametrically opposite side of the ideological aisle, is linked to the extent to which Owaisi, besides Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party, dent the votes of the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav mahagathbandhan.Owaisi’s party is contesting in six seats and Yadav has put up candidates in 64 seats.It is on Kochadaman, where former MLA from the seat and state party chief Akhtarul Iman has been fielded, that the AIMIM is pinning its hopes to open its account in Bihar. But, the Hindus are worried that the oratory of the firebrand candidate and Owaisi’s brother Akbaruddin Owaisi, against whom an FIR was filed for inflammatory speech, could draw the Muslims to the AIMIM candidate.”We will vote for Nitish’s candidate. There is fear that if the votes get split, Owaisi’s candidate may win,” said Mohan Singh, a Rajput from Kochadaman. The Muslim vote was expected to get split between Iman and JD-U candidate Master Mujahid Alam, the sitting MLA. Going by Singh’s argument, the Hindu vote was consolidating in favour of JD-U in a tactical bid against Owaisi’s candidate. The BJP has also fielded a Muslim candidate, Abdul Rehman, who was banking on the Hindu vote in Kochadaman in Kishanganj district which has around 70 per cent Muslim population.In Kishanganj Sadar, Owaisi’s candidate appeared to have only a few takers.Besides, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha candidate, Triloki Jain, who has traction among the locals, has added a fourth dimension to the contest. But, most people said a larger chunk of the Muslim vote will go to the Congress candidate Mohammad Jawaid.”Owaisi’s candidate Taseeruddin is an outsider… You cannot just come, see and conquer,” said Abdul Rashid, a fruit seller, in the Muslim- dominated Churri Patti area.Yasir, a youth running a printing press, said the Congress MLA “disappeared” after winning elections. “Owaisi is connecting with the youth. He is talking of Muslim empowerment is liking the issues Owaisi is raising,” he said.In Ghardappa Chowk village, falling on the Bihar-West Bengal border, MD Tariq Anwar, who runs a medicine shop, said it looked like Congress had an edge. “But, I will go for Owaisi’s public meetingtonight.”Half the village falls in Bihar and the rest in West Bengal. While there is no power in the Bihar side, there is electricity on the West Bengal side.In Purnea district’s Baisi, which has a 85 per cent Muslim population, Owaisi as well as Pappu Yadav have put up candidates. While both are seen as outsiders, the RJD candidate and MLA Haji Subhan appeared to have an edge over RLSP’s Azizur Rahman.Besides Kishanganj and Purnea, the Seemanchal region comprises Araria, and Katihar. The Kosi belt includes Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Supaul and Madhepura.In the direct battle of the Titans — NDA and Mahagathbandhan — both Owaisi and Pappu Yadav may find it difficult to make an impact.Once the elections are over, the rabble rousing may quieten down, but whichever alliance it helps, will the emotions it may have stirred in vulnerable minds fade out?

Bihar Elections 2015: Gruelling, acrimonious campaign finally comes to an end

The 57 seats, including 24 in the Seemanchal region bordering West Bengal, are spread over nine districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Supual, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Kisanganj, Purnea and Katihar.

evm-rna

Curtains came down this evening on campaigning for 57 seats going to poll in the fifth and last phase of bitterly-fought Bihar assembly elections on November five, with acrimonious exchanges provoking showcause notices from the Election Commission to top leaders of rival alliances.The 57 seats, including 24 in the Seemanchal region bordering West Bengal, are spread over nine districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Supual, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Kisanganj, Purnea and Katihar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the charge on behalf of the NDA, which has not declared a chief ministerial candidate, and launched a blistering attack on the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wrapping up his campaign blitzkrieg a day before electioneering ended, Modi raked up the issue of 1984 anti-sikh riots to mount a counteroffensive on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying she has no moral right to lecture NDA on tolerance and the party should “hang its head in shame” over the carnage. Modi, who addressed around 30 election rallies, unusual for a Prime Minister in a state poll, repeatedly referred to alleged attempts being made by the grand alliance to “snatch away” a part of the quotas meant for dalits, tribals and backward classes and give it to a “particular community on the basis of religion”.He also accused the grand alliance leaders of playing with nation’s security by “sheltering” those promoting terror and asked if such people should be allowed to form government in the state. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD boss led the counter attack against Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, who said in a controversial statement that celebratory firecrackers will be burst in Pakistan if BJP lost Bihar.Hitting back, Kumar said Mumbai and Amritsar will witness “maximum fireworks” if BJP lost, apparently referring to strained relations of the party with its allies in Maharashtra and Punjab. Kumar also sought to turn tables on Modi, who scoffed at his meeting with an occultist, as he targeted the Prime Minister, rally after election rally, for allegedly consulting astrologer Bejan Daruwala.Days ahead of the last phase of poll, the Election panel issued show cause notice to BJP chief Shah for his firecrackers remark, contending it had the potential to “disturb harmony”. The Commission also issued similar notices to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for his comment that “BJP makes Hindus and Muslims fight each other” and to Lalu for calling Shah a “cannibal”. Nitish Kumar held six rallies in Darbhanga and Kosi regions on the last day of electioneering, while Lalu addressed seven. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and his ministerial colleagues LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Smriti Irani, Radha Mohan Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad, besides a front runner for chief ministership if NDA is voted to power Sushil Kumar Modi addressed several election meetings through the day.The last phase of poll will also test the popularity of AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi in the Seemanchal region, which has significant presence of Muslims. Owaisi has fielded candidates in six seats on his first outing in the state polls. Among the NDA partners, BJP has fielded a maximum of 38 candidates, while LJP nominees are contesting 11. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has put up candidates in five constituencies and Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in three.JD(U) candidates are trying their luck in 25 seats, RJD in 20 and Congress 12. Prominent among those whose fate will be decided in the last phase include senior minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav of JD(U) (Supual), RJD Legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui (Alinagar), Minister Narendra Narayan Yadav (Alamnagar) and Lalu Prasad’s ‘Man Friday” Bhola Yadav (Bahadurpur).A total of 1,55,43,594 electors are eligible to vote on November 5 to decide the fate of 827 candidates, including 58 women.

Modi, facing tight election, hits back at intolerance criticism | Reuters

NEW DELHI Prime Minister Narendra Modi, battling to win power in the heartland state of Bihar and revive stalled economic reforms, hit back at critics on Monday for painting a picture of intolerance in the country.

Rivals say the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is whipping up religious tensions to win the election in Bihar, the country’s third most populous state and critical to Modi’s plans to improve his party’s strength in the upper house of parliament.

Modi’s administration has faced a rising tide of criticism for failing to rein in hardline Hindu groups that are campaigning for issues such as cow worship in a multi-faith country.

Modi, addressing a political rally in Purnea, sidestepped the criticism and accused his long-time foe, the Congress party, of playing partisan politics.

Re-opening a sensitive chapter in recent history, Modi said hundreds of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi by supporters of the Congress soon after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in November 1984.

“Should the Congress be giving lessons in tolerance?” he said to thunderous applause from supporters wearing saffron headbands. “Sikh families in Delhi are still grieving. Have you tried to wipe their tears?”

Modi himself has faced allegations that he looked the other way or was complicit in attacks on Muslims in Gujarat state, which he governed, after a mob set a train carrying Hindu pilgrims on fire. He has denied the charges and a Supreme Court ordered- investigation absolved him of any wrongdoing.

Hindus make up around 80 percent of India’s 1.2 billion population, followed by Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

Members of the Modi government have expressed concern about the rising number of Muslims and want policies to control it.

“Growing Muslim population is a big threat and people must realise that fast,” said Giriraj Singh, a federal minister, in an interview with a news channel on Monday.

“We have to protect Hindu religion, Hindu temples and food habits.”

Since the BJP swept to power, Hindu groups have stepped up a campaign against intermarriage with Muslims, describing it as “love jihad”, have begun rewriting school textbooks to reflect a nationalist view and are demanding a ban on cow slaughter.

Last month a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob for eating beef and another was murdered for espousing atheism.

“There is extreme intolerance,” Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan told India Today television channel. A string of writers have returned awards given by the government in protest against attacks on religious minorities.

Central Bank governor Raghuram Rajan also called for greater tolerance.

Modi promised voters that he would lift Bihar out of poverty. Control of Bihar is key to Modi’s ambition to secure a majority in Rajya Sabha.

(Additional reporting by Rupam Jain Nair; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Worry about female foeticide, not population ‘imbalance’: Muslim cleric on RSS resolution

The RSS passed a resolution on this contentious issue at its three-day national executive in Ranchi.

Muslim cleric Imam Umer Iliyasi on Sunday drew attention towards the rising cases of female foeticide and downplayed the RSS resolution

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Muslim cleric Imam Umer Iliyasi on Sunday drew attention towards the rising cases of female foeticide and downplayed the RSS resolution asking the government to reformulate the population policy to check demographic imbalance. “Instead of worrying about the increase or decrease of population of the country, we must worry about female foeticide. The balance of the country’s population is being disturbed because of this. If you look at Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, you will notice that our balance has been disturbed in a way that the women population has gone down and male population has increased,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As far as the demographic balance is concerned, it is the work of God to maintain the balance. It cannot be handled by man. An example of the interference by man in maintaining balance can be seen in China where they started a 100 years policy and now the result is in front of all. They are now requesting people to give birth to more and more number of children,” he added. The RSS on Saturday sought a review of the population policy to counter ‘severe demographic changes’ in India, flagging what it considers a high rate of growth among Muslims in the country.The RSS passed a resolution on this contentious issue at its three-day national executive in Ranchi. The RSS and its affiliated organisations have been citing the last census figures to claim that Hindus are facing the threat of being swamped by Muslims, though the minority community accounts for only 14.2% of the country’s population while their population is growing at a slower rate.

Bihar polls: I fear PM Modi will lose India with divisive language, says Nitish Kumar

Though Kumar did not elaborate, his response came after Modi launched a stinging attack on him in his two rallies in which he said that the JD(U) leader in a speech in Parliament on August 24, 2005 had spoken about giving quota to a particular community, a reference to Muslims.

His response came after Modi launched a stinging attack on him in his two rallies in which he said that the JD(U) leader had spoken about giving quota to Muslims.

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Attacked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the quota issue, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday hit back accusing Modi of brazenly using “divisive language” and warned he may “lose” India in his “desperation” to win the “losing battle” of Bihar. “Astonished at Modiji’s brazen use of divisive language. In his desperation to win the losing battle of Bihar, I am afraid he might lose India,” Kumar said in a tweet.Though Kumar did not elaborate, his response came after Modi launched a stinging attack on him in his two rallies in which he said that the JD(U) leader in a speech in Parliament on August 24, 2005 had spoken about giving quota to a particular community, a reference to Muslims.”Nitish had made his intentions clear way back on August 24, 2005. They lost cool when I alleged that they want to steal away 5 per cent of reservation from the quota given to SCs/STs/OBCs and EBCs and give to a particular community,” Modi said today at an election rally in Gopalganj.

Bihar Elections 2015: Amit Shah warns voters that if BJP loses, Pakistan will celebrate

“Do you want the return of Jungle Raaj-2? If by any mistake BJP loses, victory and defeat may be in Bihar but fire crackers will go off in Pakistan. Do you want crackers being burst in Pakistan?” he said.

File Photo: Amit Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah today said there will be bursting of fire crackers in Pakistan if his party loses Bihar assembly elections. Addressing an election rally here, he asked the audience if they wanted crackers to go off in Pakistan while appealing to them to vote for the BJP-led NDA. “Do you want the return of Jungle Raaj-2? If by any mistake BJP loses, victory and defeat may be in Bihar but fire crackers will go off in Pakistan. Do you want crackers being burst in Pakistan?” he said.His remarks come against the backdrop of reports that it could be tough going for the saffron alliance in the state contrary to earlier reports that the BJP-led grouping was comfortably placed. Shah also said if the grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress win, then “gangsters” like Mohammad Shahabuddin, a RJD leader presently lodged in jail, will celebrate. He also repeated the charge that the grand alliance was plotting to give away a share of quota meant for the backward castes and Dalits to minorities, a reference to Muslims.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Karnataka: Muslim barber refuses to shut shop on Tuesday, riots follow

Nine men from both communities have been arrested as of now and curfew has also been imposed.

Nelliyadi village near Mangaluru in Karnataka witnessed riots on Tuesday as a barber refused to shut shop. A report in The Hindustan Times states, that the ruckus started when a local barber, Salman, didn’t comply with local sentiments about Hindus not cutting their hair on Tuesdays and kept his shop open. Riots broke out after 4 pm and lasted a few hours leading to many people getting injured. Property worth several lakhs were also destroyed.The report states, Salman used to comply earlier and closed his barbershop on Tuesdays. However, Bajrang Dal leader Ravi Ballya told the daily that the Popular Front of India (PFI) filled his mind with ‘poison’ and he resorted to keeping his barbershop open on Tuesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The leader of the barbers’ association, Uday Kumar, reportedly went to Salman and asked him to close the shop. Salman and some others allegedly abused him which upset the Hindus. Ballya then brought a group of men and attacked Salman’s shop as well other shops owned by Muslims in the Nelliyadi Jumma Masjid complex. Then the PFI retaliated and it resulted in vandalism and arson by the groups. The head of the local masjid, Kempi Mustafa, has told the publication that this wasn’t the first time that Ballya and Kumar had fuelled communal tension in the area.Currently the situation is tensed and Ballya is absconding. Nine men from both communities have been arrested as of now and curfew has been imposed.

RSS aiming for Hindu Rashtra: Ex-Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas slams ‘indifferent’ PM Modi

He also warned the government of the consequence of marginalising minorities.

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After Sahitya Akademi and Padmi Shri awardees protested against the recent rising intolerance, former Navy chief who was earlier the Aam Aadmi Party’s Lokpal Admiral Ramdas wrote an open letter. In the letter to a website, Ramdas said, “I am forced to hang my head in shame as I witness a series of incidents and assaults on our fellow citizens, especially minorities and dalits.”Also read: Sahitya Akademi condemns rising cases of intolerance; urges writers to take back their awards<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also alleged that the Hindutva groups were trying to create a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. “There seems to be a systematic and well orchestrated attempt to impose a majoritarian single point agenda of creating a Hindu Rashtra in India – led by the RSS and their network of groups, which is disturbing to say the least,” he wrote.He also accused the prime minister and the top leadership of being ‘indifferent’. “Most shocking of all is the fact there has been no unambiguous condemnation of such actions and behaviour by those at the helm of affairs in the country. Sadly, time and time again, the response of the government seems to indicate an almost studied, but certainly not benign, indifference,” he said.Also read- Julio Ribeiro column: Why I will not return my Padma Bhushan awardHe also warned the government of the consequence of marginalising minorities, “I do not need to point out to the top leadership today, that this is playing with fire in a nation where minorities – especially Muslims and Christians, as also dalits and adivasis, are already feeling discriminated and marginalised,” he said. Here is the full text of the letter:

Kerry lays out steps to ease Israeli-Palestinian strife | Reuters

AMMAN/JERUSALEM The United States on Saturday proposed steps, including 24-hour video surveillance, to end weeks of violence over a Jerusalem site holy to Muslims and Jews.

Speaking in Amman after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel had embraced “an excellent suggestion” by the king, who is the custodian of the site within Jerusalem’s walled Old City, for round-the-clock monitoring.

Kerry said Israel had also given assurances it had no intention of changing the status quo at the al-Aqsa mosque compound that is the third holiest site in Islam. Muslims refer to the site as the Noble Sanctuary, or Haram al-Sharif, Jews call it Temple Mount.

In a detailed statement, Netanyahu said Israel recognised “the importance of the Temple Mount to peoples of all three monotheistic faiths… and reaffirms its commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice.”

He echoed Kerry’s statement that Israel would enforce its long-standing policy under which Muslims may pray at the site but Jews, Christians and members of other faiths may only visit but not pray, and that Israel had no intention of dividing up the compound.

Kerry said that Israeli and Jordanian officials would meet soon to work out the details of the video monitoring.

Authorities from both Israel and the Jordanian waqf, or Islamic trust, that administers the site, will also meet shortly “to strengthen security arrangements” at the compound, he said. Netanyahu said Israel welcomed greater coordination with the waqf.

Violence has flared in Israel, Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, in part triggered by Palestinians’ anger over what they see as Jewish encroachment on the compound.

At least 52 Palestinians, half of whom Israel says were assailants, have been shot dead by Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza since Oct. 1. Nine Israelis have been stabbed or shot dead by Palestinians.

In the latest incident, a Palestinian was shot dead on Saturday after he tried to stab an Israeli security guard at a crossing between the West Bank and Israel, Israeli police said.

“Today I hope we can begin to turn the page on this very difficult period,” Kerry said, standing beside Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who welcomed his announcements.

Netanyahu said Israel respected the “importance of the special role” played by Jordan as reflected in the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries and of the “historical role” of Jordan’s King Abdullah as custodian of the site.

“PROVOCATIONS”

A U.S. official told reporters it had not yet been decided who exactly would conduct video monitoring of the site, saying this would be discussed by Israeli and Jordanian technical officials when they meet.

An Israeli official who declined to be named, said: “Israel has an interest in placing cameras across the Temple Mount in order to refute the claims that it is changing the status quo.

“We are interested in showing that the provocations are not coming from the Israeli side,” he added.

Standing beside Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman, Kerry said the cameras “could really be a game-changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity” of the site.

In addition to the shooting of the Palestinian at the West Bank crossing, a 25-year-old Palestinian protester died of wounds he suffered last week when he was shot by Israeli troops during a border clash near the Gazan town of Khan Younis, a Gaza health official said.

On Friday, Israeli authorities lifted restrictions that had banned men aged under 40 from praying at al-Aqsa, a move seen as a bid to ease Muslim anger.

Palestinians are also frustrated by the failure of numerous rounds of peace talks to secure them an independent state. The last round of negotiations collapsed in 2014.

From Amman, Kerry flew to Riyadh, where he met King Salman of Saudi Arabia and other senior officials.

Those talks were expected to focus on efforts to end Syria’s four-year civil war and on the crisis in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has led an Arab military intervention since March to try to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and fend off what it sees as creeping Iranian influence.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Sandra Maler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

PM Modi must follow Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s friendship policy with Pakistan: Farooq Abdullah

Observing that not only Kashmiris but also Muslims in general are feeling whether they are safe in this country, Abdullah said the Government of the day is doing nothing to allay their fears.
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dna Research & Archives
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should follow Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of friendship with Pakistan to find a solution to Kashmir issue, saying he will not be able to win hearts and minds of Kashmiris merely by doling out packages.Observing that not only Kashmiris but also Muslims in general are feeling whether they are safe in this country, Abdullah said the Government of the day is doing nothing to allay their fears. Terming the situation in Kashmir as “very dangerous”, Abdullah said that even if the Prime Minister announces a Rs one lakh crore package, it is not going to win heart and minds of people by only dishing money.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Final solution of the state has to be done with Pakistan. Otherwise we will suffer. The terrorists will keep on coming. What do we have to show other than God’s beauty that we have. And tourists don’t come when there is fear that their life is not safe. Has the Prime Minister tried to remove that fear in the mind of people of India,” Abdullah told a TV news channel.Advocating that talking to Pakistan was must, he said, “it is vital for our survival so that we can progress like other states of India. Other states have reached the moon and we are still on the ground.” And the National Conference leader’s advice for Modi was that he should follow what Vajpayee, a BJP stalwart and a former Prime Minister, did by inviting the then Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf despite the Kargil war as he was clear that if the nation has to progress, then friendly ties with the neighbours are must.”Vajpayee ji said that he will talk about Kashmir within realms of humanity (Insanayaat ke daayre mein) and this is what the present Government should do. I would tell him that if he wants to be the next Mahatma Gandhi of India, then be strong to fight those forces that are trying to divide this nation, divide religion, divide areas. Fight them and become greater than Mahatma Gandhi,” Abdullah said in a veiled reference to right wing outfits which he blamed for spreading communal hatred in the country.

Hindus least likely to be tried, detained or convicted for crime in India, says NCRB

As a percentage, there are more Sikhs in prison than followers of any other faith in India.

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dna Research & Archives
Sikhs and Christians are more likely to be undertrials, detenues and convicts than Hindus and Muslims in India, says a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.According to an article in IndiaSpend, Hindus are least likely to be undertrials and convicts. Christians are most likely to be detained and imprisoned. The NCRB released this data in the Prison Statistics India 2014 report, in September.As a percentage, there are more Sikhs in prison than followers of any other faith in India. 840 Sikhs per million are in prison followed by Christians (601), Muslims (477) and Hindus (305). Sikhs make up just 4% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In India there are a total of 4,18,536 prisoners, of which 282,879 are undertrials followed by convicts (131,517), detenues (3,237) and other prisoners (903). 346 Indians per million are prisoners. The proportion of Sikh and Christian undertrials in Indian prisons is two times their proportion in the general population, says the NCRB report.The proportion of Sikh convicts is three times their proportion in the general population For Christians, the figure is two times.State wise, Punjab seems to harbour the greatest Sikh undertrials. The second and third highest are Haryana and Rajasthan. The 3 states together account for 83% of all Sikh undertrials in the country. The highest number of Christian undertrials comes from Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Orissa. These three states account for 46% of undertrials.A total of 282,879 people are undertrials in Indian jails. 70% of these undertrials are Hindu, 21% Muslim, 4% Christian and 4% Sikh. Of 131,157 convicts, 72% of convicts (95,348) are Hindus, 16% (21,550) are Muslim, 4% Christian and 6% Sikh, says the report.The proportion of undertrials who are Hindus (70%) is 9.7% less than their proportion in the general population (79.7%). The proportion of Muslim undertrials is 7% more than their proportion in the general population.Furthermore, 490 per million Sikhs are undertrials, the highest for any faith. The overall figure for India is 234 undertrials per million people. 397 per million Christians, 346 per million Muslims and 204 per million Hindus are undertrials.The proportion of Hindu convicts (72%) is almost 8% less than their proportion in the general population (79.7%). The proportion of Muslim convicts is 2% more than their proportion in the general population.350 per million Sikhs are convicts, the highest for any faith. The national figure is 109 convicts per million people. 185 per million Christians are convicts, compared to 125 per million Muslims and 99 per million Hindus.The report also adds that there was an 18% increase in undertrial prisoners across India over the past five years.Among these, Christian undertrials increased the most – 53% – from 7,198 in 2010 to 11,048 in 2014; however, there was a decline of 11% in 2014 over 2013. There was also an increase of 5% in convicts over the past five years, in India.State wise, Uttar Pradesh ranks highest in terms of total number of undertrials. UP has 200 million people. Next is Bihar, with 26,800 undertrials. Maharashtra comes third with 19,895 undertrials. Madhya Pradesh and Punjab follow.Delhi’s poor reputation continues as it has the highest number of undertrials per million people – 606. Dadra and Nagar Haveli come second with 579, followed by Mizoram and Haryana. Lastly, the NCRB report says that there are 3,237 detenues in jails across India. Of these 63% (2,030) are Hindu, 20% (658) are Muslim and 16% (505) are Christians.

Swami Agnivesh and Hussain Dalwai call recent caste and communal atrocities government failure

Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra Hussain Dalwai and social activist Swami Agnivesh on Friday spoke out against the recent spate of caste and communal atrocities in the country, condemning the lack of government action to check them.Dalwai, a member of the Congress party and convenor of an informal group of Muslims in Parliament, linked the murders of rationalists and writers, the attacks on Muslims and Dalits, as signs of growing hatred in the country, calling it a government failure. He brought up cases of attacks in Maharashtra, which hadn’t made the news the way the Dadri lynching in Uttar Pradesh, the burning of Dalit children in Sunped Haryana, the death of Kashmiri truck driver in Udhampur, for example, did.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Their condemnation of rising intolerance and violence came on a day when yet another Dalit boy died in Haryana under mysterious circumstances, writers who returned their Sahitya Akademi awards went on a march and students in Delhi were lathi-charged while protesting the rollback of non NET UGC scholarships.”Since the Mandal Commission, Hindutva has increased,” he said, “as even back then LK Advani has said that they would retaliate against those who benefited from Mandal.”Both he and Agnivesh criticised the BJP government for appearing to condemn such violence by their top leaders, while their own men acted differently on the ground.”Instead of development, they are tearing the society apart,” said Dalwai. “Those who kill rationalists can’t be touched, as they are protected. Anyone who speaks out has their face blackened with ink.Agnivesh added that this “politics of polarisation” started in the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, and has continued. The results of which, he said, could be seen all over the country. “RSS has set the agenda, and its associated groups are carrying it out,”said Agnivesh.”We thought, when the Prime Minister gave his first speech from Red Fort, against communal and caste atrocities, that he was serious about change,”he continued, “but what he says and what happens is very different.”Agnivesh gave a personal example, of how the Hindu Mahasabha had, in April this year, called him a traitor and announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to those who would bring them his head. “When I called the Haryana CM, Manohar Lal Khattar, he said he didn’t know anything,” said Agnivesh, “even though it had been reported in the media. Till now nothing has happened.Both however, called for an end to cow slaughter, saying it had no place in India. They did add that the answer to cow slaughter could never be violence against people. “If you see a cow being slaughtered complain to the police,” said Agnivesh.

LeT flays Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif for promising action against it

Sharif promised action against all terrorist networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant outfit on Friday criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for promising action against the group during his meeting with US President Barack Obama. “Prime Minister Sharif’s promise of taking action against the group was aimed at pleasing New Delhi,” its spokesman Abdullah Gaznavi said in an e-mail statement. He said Sharif’s statement has “hurt the sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims” and it will have a bearing in the state.”His (Sharif’s) action cannot be termed as right and beneficial for the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said. Sharif promised action against all terrorist networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, in a joint statement issued after his talks with Obama yesterday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: US welcomes Pakistan’s commitment to take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba

Babri Masjid litigant supports total beef ban in the country

The main litigant in Babri Masjid, Hashim Ansari, has reportedly supported the total beef ban in the country.

Hashim Ansari | Image Courtesy: Zee News

The main litigant in Babri Masjid, Hashim Ansari, has reportedly supported the total beef ban in the country. According to a report in Navbharat Times, Ansari has said that the issue is very sensitive and there should not be any politics over it. He also said that peace should be maintained in the country and PM Narendra Modi is trying to rein in hardline people, according to the report. He also reportedly praised PM Narendra Modi and said that he is doing a ‘good job’. Also read: There was ‘pre-meditated planning’ behind Dadri murder, states National Commission for Minorities<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ansari also hit out at Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and reportedly said that Yadav doesn’t stick to his words. In the report, he is also quoted saying that Yadav has no option left other than to join hands with Modi. Commenting about Azam Khan, Ansari reportedly said that he is not a well wisher of Muslims, but instead he is ‘harming’ them. He added that Azam Khan’s rants are creating a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. Related read- Dadri lynching: Meat in Mohammad Akhlaq’s fridge was mutton, not beef

India at war with itself, says Pakistan minister

India’s problem is structural whereof the trigger is being pulled by Modi, he said.

The BJP’s policy seems to be Pakistan-specific or Muslim-specific, but in reality ‘India is at war with itself’, Pakistan’s Information Minister Pervez Rashid said in a talk show on ARY News.Taking a jibe at India over attacks on Pakistani artistes and disruption of a BCCI and PCB meeting by Shiv Sena activists, Pakistan’s Information Minister said, “They (BJP) harass Muslims, Sikhs and even Christians. The BJP has a political narrative, which we feel is Pakistan-specific, because we are sitting in Pakistan. India is really at war with itself.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Talks between BCCI president Shashank Manohar and his Pakistan counterpart Shahryar Khan on the proposed bilateral series had been disrupted after the Shiv Sena activists forced the Board to cancel the meet in Mumbai.Earlier, a 50-year-old man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri village allegedly by a mob following a rumour that the family was storing and consuming beef. Rashid said, “The BJP’s policy is same as those who killed Mahatma Gandhi. They (BJP) will target their own party’s people, they will target liberals. They are the people who represent an internal problem of India,” he said further.Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan were prevented from promoting their upcoming films in Maharashtra after threats from the Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena had also prevented legendary Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali from performing in Mumbai earlier this month. Criticising recent incidents of attacks on Muslims, Pakistani journalist, foreign policy commentator and a television personality, Talat Hussain, who also participated in the talk show, Hussain said, “It is a messed up issue inside India. Recalling what former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had once said, Hussain said. “Manmohan Singh had said that India?s biggest internal threat was from Naxalites. Hence, we should not make India”s stance Muslim specific.India’s problem is structural whereof the trigger is being pulled by Modi, Hussain said.

5 things you need to know about Muharram

Muharram ‘Tazia’ procession

PTI
‘Muharram’ means ‘Forbidden’ in English. This is the first of the twelve months according to the Islamic lunar calendar. It also marks the beginning of the period of mourning for Shia Muslims, because it coincides with the incidents that led to the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. Some Muslims fast during daylight hours on the 9th and 10th, or 10th and 11th days of the month. This year, it falls on Saturday, October 24, 2015.Here is all you need to know about Muharram – 1. Battle of Karbala was fought between followers of Hazrat Husain ibn Ali and a grand army of Yazid, when Husain refused to pledge an oath of allegiance and recognise him as Caliph.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Husain and his 71 followers achieved martyrdom on the battlefield of Karbala, including his six-month-old son. Azadaari marks their martyrdom3. The 10th day of Muharram is considered most sacred. It is referred as Ashura and on this day, Husain was killed.4. The mourning rituals include self-flagellation, beating the chest, congregations and public processions. Tabarrukh is distributed after the congregation. It can be traditional food, cash or some other items.5. Tazia, a mausoleum-like structure is set up in establishments and is later buried after the congregation symbolising the funeral of Imam Husain because he never received one.

Mumbai cops beat up two Muslim youths, tell them to ‘go back to Pakistan’

The teens have alleged that they were taken by Bandra Police on Friday night when they were trying to help two drunken people on the road.

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Mumbai police has ordered an investigation into the allegations of two Muslim youths that they were beaten up by a policeman and later were asked to “go to Pakistan.” According to sources, the two teenagers, Asif Shaikh and Danish Shaikh, both 19 years old, were taken into custody after the police suspected them of being “agents of Islamic State” ot “terrorists”, NDTV reported.The teens have alleged that they were taken by Bandra Police on Friday night when they were trying to help two drunken people on the road. The teens further said that they were particularly targeted because they were Muslims. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the youths, Asif said, “The police beat us up badly and told us to head for Pakistan. They did not even allow us to call home.” They teens also alleged that they police officers also tried to pay them to keep them from filing a complaint. Out of the two youths, one has been hospitalised and the other one is hurt. Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Deven Bharti, said, “DCP Zone IX has started his inquiry. He should be given some time to speak to both sides. We are recording statements of the so-called victims and also of the police officers. If there are allegations, they should come forward with some proof.”

Dadri lynching: RSS mouthpiece calls it a ‘natural reaction’; editor says they do not support violence

“The report that RSS supports Dadri incident is blatantly false and baseless. RSS never supported any incident of violence- Dr Vaidya.”

PTI
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday negated allegations of publishing an article backing the Dadri lynching incident in its mouthpiece Panchjanya, saying the government must focus on ways to reduce communal clashes in the country.“The report that RSS supports Dadri incident is blatantly false and baseless. RSS never supported any incident of violence- Dr Vaidya,” said the tweet.Hitesh Shankar, the editor of Panchjanya, said that they do not support any violent incident.”Writers have different perspectives and thoughts about a subject… we just publish them. But I don’t remember any such article that supports violence being published in Panchjanya,” said Shankar.”The country has seen the revolt of 1857. In Punjab as well, there has been resentment against the desecration of a holy book. There is anguish in the society,” he added.Shankar further said the society has certain value points that prevent clashes.Also read: RSS mouthpiece defends Dadri lynching, calls it a ‘natural reaction’ to ‘sin’ of cow slaughter”Not following those points create clashes. How can we remove these clashes should be the government’s concern,” he said.The RSS mouthpiece in its latest edition has criticised the writers, who have returned their awards in the wake of the incident in Dadri where a man was lynched over rumours of storing beef at his residence.”It alleges that madrasas and the Muslim leadership teach Indian Muslims to hate the country’s traditions. ‘Akhlaq (the Dadri victim) perhaps slaughtered a cow under the influence of such bad deeds,” it states.Questioning the silence of writers, it asks them why they have been quiet on this issue. “Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow. It is a matter of life and death for many of us),” states the article.

RSS mouthpiece defends Dadri lynching, calls it a ‘natural reaction’ to ‘sin’ of cow slaughter

It also alleges that madrasas and the Muslim leadership teach Indian Muslims to hate the country’s traditions.

PTI
RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya’s has defended the killing of Mohmmad Akhlaq, who was lynched to death in Dadri, reported a leading daily.On September 29, Mohmmad Akhlaq was dragged out of his home and stoned to death on a village street after a public announcement from the local temple that the family had slaughtered a calf and eaten its meat.According to the report published in Indian Express, the cover story in the latest edition of the Sangh mouthpiece says the Vedas order the killing of “sinners” who slaughter cows. It also alleges that madrasas and the Muslim leadership teach Indian Muslims to hate the country’s traditions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The article in Panchjanya reads, “Veda ka adesh hai ki gau hatya karne wale pataki ke pran le lo. Hum mein se bahuton ke liye to yah jivan-maran ka prashn hai (Vedas order the killing of the sinner who kills a cow. It is a matter of life and death for many of us),” states the article title ‘Is Utpat ke Us paar’ (The other side of this disturbance)’ by Hindi writer Tufail Chaturvedi. Tufail is the pen name of Vinay Krishna Chaturvedi, reports IE. He edits the journal Lafz.Questioning the silence of writers, it states, “Akhlaq (the Dadri victim) perhaps slaughtered a cow under the influence of such bad deeds.” “Gau-hatya Hinduon ke liye maan bindu hai (Cow slaughter is an issue of honour for Hindus). Muslims who commit such acts today are converted Hindus of Indian origin. It is important for social harmony that we respect faiths of each other,” said Chaturvedi speaking to the daily.Also read: Shimla- Another Dadri? Man killed by mob for allegedly smuggling cowsThe Panchjanya article also claimed that the killing was a “natural reaction” to the “sin” of cow slaughter.The report added that Chaturvedi named Muslim religious leaders who he claims have supported cow-slaughter and questioned writers for never condemning “these wicked persons.”Few weeks ago, sending out a message amid hate mongering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for communal harmony and asked Hindus and Muslims to work together against poverty and ignore “irresponsible” statements made by politicians, even if he himself makes any.Breaking his silence over communal overtones, he had invoked President Pranab Mukherjee’s message, saying the countrymen should follow the path he has shown for preserving the core civilisational values of diversity, tolerance and plurality.”I have said it earlier also. We have to decide whether Hindus should fight Muslims or poverty. Muslims should decide whether to fight Hindus or poverty….The country will benefit only when Hindus and Muslims together fight poverty and defeat it… The country has to stay united,” said Modi.