India from 2020 Crisis to Crisis in 2021

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 January 2021 | Posted in , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

India has moved into 2021 with the following crisis. Indians are looking at the government for its solution. Government’s stoic silence on all these issues speaks to its inability to set things right.

Economic Peril: What started from demonetization to ill-planned GST to prolonged lockdown, Indian economy has taken one hit after another.

Assertion of majoritarianism: Under the Modi rule there is huge assertion of right wing Hindutva forces. The secular aspects of the constitution have suffered serious blows and minorities particularly Muslims, have been feeling insecure.

Democratic Space is shrinking: There is an increasing feeling of the narrowing of democratic space which is a huge worry for the people of the country.

Assertion of social movements: Indians are witnessing assertion of social movements this in view of the significant problems and issues facing the people. There was a CAA protest earlier and now farmers protest. There are other issues of social reform and environment protection that are waiting for expressions.

Farmers Protest: It raises some wider concerns of food security, ecologically, protective and sustainable farming. It’s part of a larger agrarian crisis.

Agrarian Crisis: India’s farm economy is in turmoil Suicides, debt burden, falling prices of produce are part of agrarian crisis. An estimated 26 crore people work in the agriculture sector. This is to say that about 55-57percent of the population is dependent on the farm sector.

Political Arrogance: It is from PM Modi downwards, all those holding the reins of governance are full of arrogance. Politicians consistently misuse their position and members of bureaucracy are at their worst.

Unemployment: One in three formally trained youth in India is unemployed. Pandemics have hugely contributed to unemployment. The 1990s employment bubble has burst and Indian youth are back to 1970s syndrome.

Rising crime against women: Extreme cases against women are reported from all over the country. The country had recorded 3,78,236 cases of crimes against women on Sep 30, 2020. It was 62.4 per cent in 2019, up from the 58.8 percent figure of 2018. Rape of women is a continuing theme. 87 Rape cases are reported each day.

Media Menace:
Misinformation, hate speech and false propaganda has become part and parcel of Indian media discourse. The government of the day and the courts are presiding over the prostitution of the pen, that’s going on with impunity.

Pending Justice: Justice delayed is justice denied. Bureaucratic sloth coupled with slow settlement of cases in courts is a scourge in this country. Many Kafkaesque trials are going on in India.

Poor Police system: India has a ratio of 138 police personnel per lakh of population. Less than 25 percent of Indians do not trust the police. The distrust is due to the inhuman way of police treatment with the people.

Water Crisis: While the government is busy building a new Parliament, India is facing the worst water crisis. The NITI Aayog has warned that the demand for drinking water will outstrip supply by 2030 if preventive steps are not taken. Experts predict that 21 big cities will run out of groundwater by 2030.

Monsoon Fury: Floods are synonymous with monsoon. It’s the same story every year: thousands evacuated, hundreds dead, livelihoods lost, villages and settlements washed away, houses submerged etc. In the end authorities are blamed for doing nothing.

Corruption: The most widely spread endemic in India is corruption, which is ignored even though it was touted as the second freedom struggle in 2014 general elections.

Basic Sanitation: Sanitation is yet another problem, one of the biggest, in India. There are about 700 million people who have no access to basic toilets at home.

Healthcare System: India is world’s most populous country but it grossly lacks in providing proper healthcare facilities to its entire population. It was thought that pandemics could be made the reason to augment the health infrastructure but that never happened.

Poverty: The population of India living below the poverty line has declined over the years but poverty has not been eliminated from the country. It is said that one in five Indians lives in extreme poverty.

Pollution: Pollution and other environmental issues that are the other challenges before India but little attention is given to face the situation.

Infrastructure: India is lacking in infrastructure development, towards better roads, affordable housing and services like water, sanitation, primary healthcare, etc.

India has taken giant strides in the last few decades. But this does not mean to forget issues, which continue to pose hurdles in the progress of the nation. These social, political and economic issues are to be taken seriously to improve the prevailing condition of our society. With the proliferation of information and technology, more awareness is spreading among the masses. As Indians we should really work hard to eradicate these problems from their very roots. Blaming the government and others will remain counterproductive.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Bihar: An Insight into the Muslim population in Seemanchal Region

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Muslims are splintered in India and their diversity is synonymous with Indian. There is a Seemanchal region in the state of Bihar where there is significant but distinct Muslim population that begs attention. These Muslims are quite different from the general perception about the Muslims in India.

The Seemanchal region exists in Bihar that is close to the international border of Nepal and Bangladesh. It is a landlocked region comprising four districts; Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria. The region is insulated from the rest of the state and the country. The distance between Seemanchal and state capital Patna is about 368 km while Assam is barely 300 kilometers.

In many ways, Seemanchal is different from the rest of Bihar and the country. The most obvious difference is the demographic profile of the region. The Muslim population in Seemanchal is 47% Muslim whereas Bihar’s state-wide average of Muslim populationis 17%. Of the 1.08 crore population in Seemanchal, there are 49 lakh Muslims in this region. The proportion of Muslims in the four districts of Seemanchal are; Kishanganj: 68 percent, Katihar: 44.5 percent, Araria: 43 percent, Purnea: 38.5 percent.

While in the rest of Bihar, Muslims are largely concentrated in the urban areas, in the Seemanchal region, Muslims population is concentrated in the rural areas. Seemanchal Muslims are poor peasants and their average landholdings are small.

The other distinct feature of the Seemanchal region is that here the Hindu population is much lower than that of the Muslims and the dominant caste of the Hindus are nearly absent here more particularly is the Yadav caste.

Linguistically Seemanchal is considered part of the greater Mithila region but the region is divided on three distinct linguist differences i.e. Surjapuri, Kulhaiya and Bengali languages. The Seemanchal region is peculiar due to Surjapuris, Kulhaiyas and Shershahbadis communities.

The Surjapuri community holds considerable influence in the Seemanchal region. According to George Grierson in the Linguistic Survey of India, Surjapuris have Koch origin and they speak a dialect similar to the Koch Bengali of Malda.

Shershahbadis are of Bengali origin but have a different history. They are said to be soldiers in the army of Sher Shah Suri. They settled initially in the Gaur region in Bengal but they were displaced by the Mughals and they settled in the Seemanchal region and started doing cultivation. They converted to Islam later and followed the ‘Ahle Hadis’ school of thought whose guiding principles are Quran and the tradition of the prophet. That’s how Shershahbadis differentiates themselves from the majority of Muslims in Seemanchal who follow syncretic traditions.

Kulhaiya are said to have come from Hadhramaut region of eastern Yemen. They were brought as soldiers and worked with the Faujdars of Purnea, who ruled the autonomous region headquarter at Purnea and the surrounding places. Kulhaiyas later became an agrarian community marrying the locals and settlers from other parts of the country. As a result of the diverse linguistic influences, Kulhaiya dialect is much more mixed than the other communities. Kulhaiya had to suffer a great deal during the British rule and were declared criminal tribes by the colonial rulers.

Kulhaiya and Shershahbadis come under Other Backward Caste category but Surjapuris do not have any such reservation. The political rivalries in the Seemanchal region are centered on these three categories. In terms of political representation, Kulhaiya fare better but now Surjapuris are gradually catching up. There is presence of Ansari caste in the Seemanchal region but they are politically underrepresented.

Seemanchal region is considered to be one of the most backward areas within Bihar. The average literacy rate of the four districts (Araria, Purnea, Kishanganj and Katihar) is 35 percent against Bihar’s average of 64%. The four districts grossly lack development.

In terms of general education the region is quite backward. Pothia is the most illiterate block not only in India but in the entire Asia. In Seemanchal there is huge shortage of schools and colleges. There are only two constituent colleges in Kishanganj for a 17 lakh population. There is only one teacher in Nehru College where two thousand students study. There are no medical or engineering colleges and there are no technical institutes. Purnea University, the only university, came into existence just two years ago in 2018.

The Seemanchal region is affected by floods every year. The devastation caused by floods is huge. Most of the year, floods submerge the area. Due to floods paddy crops usually get destroyed. Sometimes even the second or third crop also gets affected due to floods. It is common to see children wading through flooded fields to catch fish with bare hands to supplement their families’ income.

The Seemanchal region is home to more than one crore population but the health care facilities there are appalling. Just like lack of government schools and colleges, there is little public health care system in place. In the absence, qualified medical practitioners quacks are having a field’s day in the region.

In terms of infrastructural needs Seemanchal is the least developed region. The main roads vanish every few kilometers and interior roads in villages are merely dirt paths. Roads are full of potholes and the bus rides are bone rattling. The rail connectivity to the Seemanchal region is pathetic. The electrical connection is very poor in rural areas and no electrical equipment works here. The condition of electricity is better in the urban areas but power shortage is the major problem in the region. Then the problems of unemployment, illiteracy are rampant in the region. Seemanchal is home to one of the poorest Muslim region in India. Here the average per capita income is 10,000 as against the state average of 14,574.

The combined effect of language, geography, religion and poverty makes the Seemanchal region one of the most underdeveloped areas in the country. Many blame it on the politics of the region which does not address the developmental problems of the region and cater to the state and center centric politics. Out of 243 assembly seats in Bihar, Semmanchal region sent 27 legislatures to state assembly. These seats are divided among the dominant political formation of the state that cares little about the development needs of the Seemanchal region.

There is a growing consciousness among the locals now to get consolidated under one political formation to make any difference to the region. However, in the absence of their own political formation, outside elements politically divide them for votes. There is certainly a need for the wakeup call in the region and this alone may give a new impetus to the development of the Seemanchal region.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

OPINION: Indian Muslims have only THREE political choices to make

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 03 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Muslims in India are at the horns of dilemma. In the given circumstances Muslims have three broad political choices; vote for Secular parties, vote for Hindutva or vote for Muslim first. In the adult franchise and secret ballot, each voter is free to exercise its mandate. Nonetheless, Muslims have to choose from these three options and each has its own narrative built around it to entice the Muslim voters.

Vote for secular parties

There are many who argue that Muslims have no other option but to vote for the secular parties even if it means no betterment for them. The argument runs that voting for a communal party will polarize the Hindu votes and this will give the RSS- BJP a permanent majority in India. It will solidify BJP’s base permanently in the democratic system of governance in India. Those having such an opinion want Muslims to vote for the secular parties as it alone can provide them the shield (suraksha kabaj) against the onslaught of the RSS-BJP combine.

Those arguing for voting the secular parties’ seem to be convinced that all is well for Muslims in India. Even it means; lynching of the Muslims by cow vigilantes, Asifa rape and murder, assault on the Muslim personal law, SC judgment on the Babari Masjid, robbing of Muslim majority status to J&K, vilification of Tabligi Jamaat members and Muslims, shaving of a Muslim’s beard in railway station, making the Muslim drink cow urine in public view, cutting a Muslims hand that had Allah tattoo, conversion law, and Citizenship laws etc. They feel there are non-issues having any implication on the Muslims of India.

Those arguing for voting the secular parties’ tooth and nail oppose the political party that’s ask to vote for Muslim first political parties. The backers of vote for secular parties tell that Muslims will be doing political hara-kiri, if they choose the communal path of politics. To them secular parties are the best bet for the Muslims in India.

Vote for Hindutva

There are some Muslims who like to argue to vote for the Hindutva party. This is to buy peace if Muslims want to live peacefully in India. They are of the view that Muslims should willingly accept the ideology of Hindutva and vote the BJP- RSS combine and permanently get rid of communal polarization in India.

The vote for Hindutva protagonists feel that Muslims interests will be best served by merging their identity with the Hindutva ideology that sees every Indian as a Hindu. In order to trade for peace, Muslims only have to change their name, dress habits, food habits, culture, language, etc. This would satisfy the invincible Hindutva bandwagon who may refrain from constant vilification, subjugation, humiliation of Muslims in this country. The argument runs, if this happens so, there will be no more communal riots in the country and Muslims will get liberated from the current siege mentality. The argument further runs that under the Hindutva rule Muslims will see a new dawn for the community and will get thumbs up.

Muslims First

Those who argue for Muslim first political strategy come up with the fact that Muslims with a population of 200 million are about 14% but have only 27 seats in the current Parliament that has of 543 members. The ratio of Muslim representation in the state assemblies is even more embarrassing. These Muslim representatives cannot talk about their community issues. The interest of their political parties runs contrary to Muslim issues and they do not allow their Muslim leaders to voice their community interests because they belong to a secular party.

According to Muslim first political strategists; Muslims consistent support to the Congress and other caste based parties has brought them down to the level described in the 2005 Sachar Committee report. Since then Muslims condition has worsened and not improved even a bit though they are voting the secular political parties. The protagonists of Muslims First argue that Muslims have been tricked into supporting “pseudo secular” parties with the allurement that these parties will protect them and make their condition conducive for their betterment. But did that really happen? The Muslim first protagonists argue.

They explain that the so called secular parties seek Muslim support not to defeat the BJP but to enlarge their power base and end up doing nothing for the Muslims. What worse situations can Muslim face that is created by the BJP rule in India?

The solution that Muslim first apologists dish out that suppose if these 27 Muslim MPs may have belonged to one political party that espouses Muslims first, it certainly may have made some difference on the national scene.

Therefore Indian Muslims are on the horns of dilemma, caught between these three different shades of political choices. If they vote for the secular political parties there is hardly going to be any change. If they vote for Hindutva, thumhari dastan bhi na hogi dastano mein (their story will not be in the stories). If they vote for Muslim first political party, they have to make a choice between rock and the hard surface.

This is a very tough choice for the Indian Muslims to make. They are caught in a tussle between majoritarian Hindutva politics and minority identity politics. The majoritarian Hindutva politics pursued by the current regime is hegemonic in nature, wrapped in the toxic ideology of Hindutva that preaches racial supremacy of the Hindus.

In contrast, the Muslim minority identity politics is the desire for their proportional representation in the mainstream democratic politics. The minority identity politics is a quest towards social justice, equality and democratic way of life. The ultimate destination for minority identity politics is their amalgamation into the larger liberal secular polity with more democratic representation.

The problem with the minority identity politics is they fail to understand the shift that India has taken since 214. The BJP’s majoritarian politics is implementing its supremacist ideology in the country. That is to say everyone who has to live in India should imitate the Hindu way of life, like one nation-one network, kind of slogan.

This is a brand new republic where there is no place to accommodate “Eshwar- Allah tero naam,” kind of diversity in India anymore. The Hindutva politics has moved far from its own ‘Jai Sea Ram’ to ‘Jai Shree Ram.’.

This is a brand new republic where the main target is to subsume the Muslim religious identity within the Hindutva umbrella. The other objective is to flatten the federal humps of India categorized in the linguistic, cultural and other specificities. The Hinduvta politics aspires to establish the supremacy of the Hindi – Hindu – Hindustan identity over all these identities of India. Any resistance to this can be tamed in a muscular way as done to J&K, with one ‘vidhan’ one ‘nishan’ argument.

The problem is with Muslim politics as it is ignorant to deal with the current political situation in India. Some think that voting the secular party will maintain their status quo. Others think that voting for the BJP alone can ensure their safety and protection in the country. However, those pursuing Muslim first strategy say that Muslims should come out from their ivory towers. Its minority identity politics that alone can safeguard their interest in the country. Their separate identity alone can defeat the forces inimical to them. United we stand, divided we fall goes the argument.

This is a sanguine story that is unfolding in India. There cannot be a photo finish to this story. Let the democracy with its entire vicissitudes give its verdict on this tale of India.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Asaduddin Owaisi and Kamal Hassan may jointly contest Tamil Nadu polls

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMM) headed by Asaduddin Owaisi's and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) headed by Kamal Hassan are joining hands in the upcoming polls in Tamil Nadu to be held in April or May 2021.

TS Vakeel Ahmed Tamil Nadu State President - All India Majlis-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen said this reporter that AIMM is likely to contest in 25 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu. “The party is likely to have conferences in Trichy and Chennai in January to finalize the electoral plan,” Vakeel Ahmed said from Hyderabad where he has gone to consult party’s president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

Mr Ahmad said, regarding AIMM joining hands with MNM of Kamala Hassan, ‘MP Saab’ is holding a meeting with party office bearers of Tamil Nadu in Hyderabad.

Kamala Hassan has already announced that he will contest state assembly elections slated to happen in 2021 He told to make an announcement later about the constituency from which his party will be contesting.

It may be recalled that last year, Owaisi and Hassan were on the same page when the AIMM chief had backed Hassan's statement that Nathuram Godse should be called the ‘first’ terrorist of independent India.

Tamil Nadu has about 6 per cent Muslim population and in few constituencies they have dominant presence. Muslims can make their electoral presence felt if they combine with Dalit and other backward caste group in Tamil. So far Muslims have voted either for their own political parties or the Dravadian parties or the Congress. They never got any importance by siding with all these political formations. Now, in the new political matrix, Muslim feels they may get better deal in any coalition political arrangement in the state.

TS Vakeel Ahmed said, he is in talks all the Muslim parties in Tamil Nadu with the plan to unite them under one common platform. There six main Muslim political parties Tamil Nadu. Indian Union Muslim League, All India Muslim League, Indian National League, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail]

Obituary - Sadia Dehelvi dreamt for Indian Muslim Youth Movement

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 August 2020 | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

I am awestruck seeing the obituary coverage of Sadia Dehalvi, a Delhi socialite in the media. Her multifaceted personality is brought out in all the media reports that points how important Sadia Appa was in the Delhi social circle.

Reading about Sadia Appa my memory compelled me to unburden my thoughts with an obit on her sitting here in Chennai where I am currently based.  I knew Sadia Dehalvi in the year 1985 - 86 when I was 22 years and now I am 58.

We were a bunch of AMU students who had come to Delhi with the ambition to crack the Civil Services exam. We discovered India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC) on the Lodi Road that provided us free accommodation and a library to pursue our civil services dream.

Every weekend there was a pep talk by some “big gun” organized at the IIICC for us the civil services aspirants under the meet the celebrity programme.  

It was in one of those meetings Madam Sadia Dehalvi had come to give a talk on socially relevant issues in India. I was floored by Sadia Appa’s grace, elegance, élan and sophistication of her personality.  She seems to be a well-read person and talked to us quite knowledgeable on several social issues. Her vibrancy and enthusiasm in engaging us in conversation made us demand her again and again and soon she became a regular visitor to the IICC.  

It was in one such meeting, we had engaged Sadia Appa in a discussion on the Muslim problems in India. I found she had some original thoughts on this issue. She hailed said educational reformers in the country and showered praises on them for uplifting the community from ignorance.

She then came to her original idea and said the primary goal should be social activism to transform the community. She told us that only social activism can take the community forward. Such activism has to be done at an All India level and should be in parallel to the administrative structure of the country.

She wanted the Muslim community to organize into Self Help Groups at the Panchayat- Blocks – Subdivision and districts levels all over country just like how the administrative division exists in the country.     

What she meant was Muslims should form an advocacy group and even coined the term IMYM or Indian Muslim Youth Movement. She said Muslims should not look towards the government for the development of community development but they should organize themselves under a strong platform that they can help, guide and prepare the community to stand up on its feet.

Sadia Appa’s ideas touch an emotional chord among many of us and generated lot of positive energy for such a futuristic vision for the uplifting of the marginalized Muslim community.

The idea of IMYM was very refreshing. It was beyond Madrasas and minority institutions or even technical learning schools. It was a call for a new social movement that was unheard and un-talked in India.  Many of us present there were impressed by her fresh thinking towards addressing the Muslim problems in the country. Her thought to organize the Muslim community under an umbrella organization was a grand vision for the development of the community.

Unfortunately her idea of IMYM could never take off. This was because there was a need for many dedicated persons resources and other such organizational requirements to take it forward and to be made into a movement.

I moved to JNU for my civil services mission and lost contact with Sadia Delvi. Nonetheless, I followed her in the media and it appeared to me that she too had other things to do and she remained busy in them.

Now when everyone is talking about her, I thought I may also enrich my reader a different personality of Sadia Dehalvi. I knew Sadia Appa was not taken seriously because her life style did not match someone who can be accepted for the development of the Muslim community.

It was such a rejection that the vision of IMYM went into oblivion. It was also because such an idea came from a lady who did not look like a female version of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, (beard and cap).

This is not to denigrate anyone’s contribution to the progress of the community but to underline the point that Muslim women too can take up the role of the leadership of the community. I am writing this because I cherish those memories of Sadia Dehalvi. Having come to know her from close quarters, I can say with some conviction that she was a faithful Muslim.

Her concern for the development of the Muslim community was no less than Muslim clergy and narrow, parochial and patriarchy rooted types of Muslims in India.

When I heard the news of the passing away of Sadia Appa, a stream of thoughts jogged down my memory lane. I felt compelled to unburden myself to narrate this anecdote that can have a transformative impact on the Muslim community. A change that is what is needed in the Muslim community and that was the vision of Sadia Appa. She wanted this to happen through IMYM.

Through this obituary note I like to say I am proud to have met such a visionary personality in my lifetime. I end this; Sadia Appa rest in peace, it was nice knowing you and I joined many others in a silent prayer saying 'Rest in Peace' Appa. RIP…

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Send foreign Tablighi Jamaat members home, appeals Islamic Federation in Tamil Nadu

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: The Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslim organizations and political parties have vehemently appealed to the state government for release 129 foreign Tabligi Jamat (TJ) members lodged in Puzhal Central Prison complex here.

The Tamil Nadu government has designated the Juvenile prison within Puzhal jail for the detention of 129 foreign TJ members who have violated Visa regulations.

These are 53 citizens from Indonesia, 17 from Malaysia, 14 from Bangladesh, 14 from Thailand, 13 from Myanmar, 8 from Ethiopia, 5 from France, 3 from Cameroon, 1 from Congo, 1 from Belgium.

Addressing an online press conference, the Islamic Federation has asked the Tamil Nadu government to drop all cases against the foreign TJ members and set them free from the illegal dentation and send them to their respective countries. 

The online press conference was addressed by the Islamic Federation's President and Jamathul Ulama Council President, Moulana P.A Haja Moinudeen Hazrath, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi President M.H.Jawahirullah, SDPI President Nellai Mubarak, Coordinators M Manzoor Khasifi, Alhaj M Basheer Ahmed and others.

There were 129 foreign TJ members including 12 women belonging to 9 different countries who were arrested by Tamil Nadu police from the various places of the state following the discovery of coronavirus linkage with TJ members and Nizamuddin Markaz world conference in New Delhi.

The Madras High Court and its subsidiary courts granted bail to 98 TJ members arrested in 12 cases. Similarly, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court granted bail to other 31 foreign TJ members.

All these foreign TJ members who were earlier put up at Saidapet sub jail but after being given bail, were shifted to Juvenile prison within the Puzhal Central jail complex.

This included 31 foreign TJ members who were arrested from the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu and their bail plea was heard by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

While granting bail to 31 TJ members on June 12, 2020, the Madurai Bench of Madras High court stated that it is not fair to detain them in the Special Camp within Puzhal Prison complex and the government should consider keeping them in any other good place.
The court further stated that “these people have served maximum sentences for violation of Visa rules and there is no proof that these people have spread Coronavirus. In such a situation, if the petitioners execute appropriate affidavits expressing their regret for having violated the visa conditions, proceedings against them shall be concluded by filing final reports recording the same,” the court said.

The Islamic Federation Based on the judgment of the Madurai Bench of Madras High court held a online press conference where it said; “It is contempt of the Judgment given by the Madurai Bench of Madras High court to illegally keep 31 foreign TJ members in Puzhal prison, whose case have been closed and have been acquitted and absolved of all cases against them.”

“Further, those 98 people including 8 women who have got bail from court but their cases are still not disposed of and are still kept in detention even more than 60 days of their arrests are illegal.”

The Islamic federation appealed to the state government to drop all pending cases against the remaining 98 foreign nationals and stop their illegal detention in Puzhal prison complex and house them in some better place.

A member of Islamic Federation and President Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, M H Jawahirullah pointed out that the central government has given clear guidelines about these special camps as to how they should function.

Frist, such a detention center should not be located within the prison complex which is not in this case. Second, the food for such detainees should be prepared in a separate Kitchen but in this case, foreign TJ members are served food meant for the prisoners of Puzhal Jail. Third, the guidelines say the detention place should have proper ventilation for air and sunlight but that’s not there in this detention center, M H Jawahirullah said.

He added; “the Juvenile prison within Puzhal jail can accommodate only 30 to 40 persons but there are 129 TJ members cramped in an inhuman condition in such detention center that too at the times Covid crisis is huge violation of social distancing norms begs human attention.”

The MMK leader demanded that Tamil Nadu government should house these foreign TJ members in a ‘near human’ conditions and suggested keeping them at Jamia Qasmiya Arabic College in Washermanpet locality, till they are sent to their respective countries.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com] 

Tamil Nadu Muslim body TMMK involved in funeral service of Corona victims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: A Muslim group in Tamil Nadu is actively involved in conducting proper funeral rites of dead bodies mostly of Corona victims belonging to different faiths.

The volunteers of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), a Muslim non-governmental organization have performed the last rights of about 139 dead bodies belonging to different religions commencing from March 25, 2020 till this date.

The funeral rites have been conducted based on the religious beliefs of the dead and many among them are non-Muslims, said M.H. Jawahirullah  TMMK President.

Even when the loved ones of the dead are unwilling to perform their last rites, the volunteers of the TMMK are doing the funeral service based on human concerns, he added.
So far TMMK have done funeral service for 139 people from March to June 2020. Among them 58 who died due to Covid- 19, include 48 from Chennai, 2 from Villupuram, 1 from Pernambut area in Tirupattur district, 3 from Trichy, 1 from Kayalpattinam in Tuticurin District, 1 from Aaarani in Tiruvannamalai district and 2 from Erode.    

Apart from them, there were 81 orphaned people who died during the Corona curfew or lockdown.  These include 63 from Chennai, 2 from Coimbatore, 2 from Udumalaipet and one each from Trichy and Madurai. Besides, there are 12 other orphan deaths from different places of Tamil Nadu whose last rites were performed by the TMMK.

M.H. Jawahirullah said since the first curfew began on March 25, 2020 the TMMK have been actively taking part in rescue and relief operations of those who died of Coronavirus in Tami Nadu. As a part of it, its volunteers actively involve themselves in burying the bodies. They have been doing this with utmost dedication with proper precautionary measures, he added.

In many occasions, the police department has directly approached TMMK to help them in burying the dead bodies. We have readily extended the service to dispose of the dead bodies in a proper way, the TMMK President quipped.  

As of today there have been 67,468 Covid positive cases reported in Tamil Nadu, of them 37,763 have recovered. So far 866 fatalities are reported from the entire state. 

Chennai continues to be the worst-hit district with 1,380 fresh cases in the state capital taking the number of cases in the city to 44,205. Of these, 39,897 patients are males, 24,686 are females and 20 are transgender patients.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist is based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

“Greater Nepal” -- A powerful slogan echoing in India's backyard

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 23 June 2020 | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The idea of Greater Nepal is a new brand of nationalism that is being packaged in the Himalayan state against India. Greater Nepal wants an idea to extend its boundaries into the territories like Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra region of India.

Cities like Darjeeling, Nainital, Almora and Dehradun and few others are supposed to be part of Greater Nepal. They say these territories were ceded to the East India Company under the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 due to the defeat of the Gurkha king in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16. It was an unjust treaty that was held between shareholders of the Company and the King of a state. Such a treaty has no relevance in the age of democracy and people’s sovereignty.  

The Treaty of Sugauli in 1816 caused Nepal's rulers to lose about 105,000 km of territory and left Nepal as it is today, with 147,181 km of present total area.

The British government in December 1923 superseded the Sugauli Treaty with a "Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship.” The Indian government further ratified this Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950.
However, those behind the idea of ‘Greater Nepal’ want to scrap the 1950 agreement with India. Behind this there is a NGO called Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNLF) headed by Phanindra Nepal that wants to achieve the goal of Greater Nepal. There are also some political parties like Greater Nepal Nationalist Front that endorse such ideas.

The GNLF has launched a signature campaign demanding the return of territory belonging to Nepal. According to ‘The Rising Nepal', a government-owned national daily, the campaign was initiated by the Greater Nepal Nationalist Front coinciding with Nepal National Unity Day. The signatures collected were supposed to be handed over to the Nepal president Bidya Devi Bhandari, UN secretary general, the five members of the UN Security Council, and to the SAARC secretary general.  

The concept of Greater Nepal stands on two legs. One is Nepal’s treaty with the East India Company that GNLF says has become redundant. Second, the areas that form the parts of Greater Nepal are inhabited by Nepalese people who speak Gorkhali language and are ethnically and linguistically more closer to the people of Nepal than to the Indian mainland.

As far as the government of Nepal is concerned it does not subscribe to the idea of “Greater Nepal” nor do the major political parties of Nepal. However, the fact remains that “Greater Nepal” is a powerful slogan that is gaining ground in the neighboring state.

Recently, both houses of Nepal’s parliament approved a new map including territory controlled by India. The National Assembly or upper house unanimously voted to endorse the new political map issued last month that shows the disputed areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal.

The Indian side has said Nepal’s “shifting” claims are contrary to the Treaty of Sugauli signed in 1815 by Nepal and the British, a ruling by the British governor general in 1817, and Nepal’s boundary treaty with China of 1961 and protocols signed by these two countries in 1963 and 1979.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com] 

"Visit My Masjid" Programme gets a warm response in Tamil Nadu

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 11 March 2020 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: In wake of discretion of mosques and killing of ‘Imam’ at the recent riots in Delhi, some Muslims in ‘Vaniyambadi,’ a town about 200 km from Chennai, organized a ‘Visit My Masjid’ programme at Masjid-e-Khaderpet on  Sunday, March 1, 2020.

This was done to strengthen inter-faith relations and build a constituency of peace and communal harmony among the people of different faiths in Vaniyambadi, one of the hubs of leather exports at Tirupattur District in Tamil Nadu.

It was for the first time a mosque’s door was opened to people belonging to different faiths. More than 400 non-Muslim brothers and sisters visited Masjid-e-Khaderpet under the "Visit My Masjid" programme. 
They were curious non-Muslims visitors from all walks of life such as students, professionals, politicians and businessmen etc. They were welcomed with open arms by the volunteers, trustees and committee members of the Khaderpet mosque. 

They were taken to the different portions of the mosque and volunteers explained to them about the rituals and concepts of Islam. The explanation started with the water tank (Hauz) where the visitors were told about the way a Muslim perform ‘Wuzhu’ (ablution) before saying the prayers. This was to convey the message of importance of cleanliness in Islam.

Some visitors showed great interest in learning the way of performing the ‘Wuzhu’ and few tried to clean their hands and legs, nose and mouth in the Islamic way of ablution.

The visitors were them taken to the place from where the ‘Azhan’ call for prayer, was given. The Arabic words of ‘Azhan’ were translated and its meaning was explained to the guests.

This was followed by the explanation on the timings and names of daily five time prayers. They were also explained why the timings vary in hours. The guests were then taken to the prayer hall of the mosque. They were explained about the architectural features of the prayer hall like ‘Mihrab’, ‘Minbar’ etc.

They were explained about the ways of prayers in the mosque are performed.  How lining up or ‘Saf Bandi’ in prayer is being done. How “Khutba” or sermon in congregation prayers like on Friday prayers is made. The visitors were also told about the importance of “Imam” in leading the prayers.

Placards were at display in few places of the mosque to help the visitors understand the concepts of Islam and the way Muslim pray in a mosque to add clarity to ‘Visit My Masjid’ programme.
The visitors were then taken to nearby the graveyard or ‘Qabrastan.’ They were explained about the way funeral prayer is performed and how burial is done.  The visitors were also explained about the concept of ‘Aaqirath’ or life after death in Islam.

They visitors very much appreciated the "Visit My Masjid" programme.  They were impressed by the way they were welcomed and treated in the mosque. They gave their feedback in a form and also recorded their experience on video camera about their enhanced knowledge and understanding about Islam and its teachings.

The SIO Vaniyambadi Unit and members of the Masjid-e-Khaderpet deserve special thanks to initiate such a peace loving concept of "Visit My Masjid" programme. The organizers can be contacted at 9500359571 and 8148989402.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

PEOPLE: Madhu Kishwar – A Chameleon Academic!

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Madhu Kishwar, well known feminist and editor of women’s magazine Manushi, is once again in the news for peddling communal material alleged to be fake news.

This time this pioneer scholar of women's studies in India has put up a video on her twitter handle alleged to be footage from Bangladesh where a group of Muslims wearing skull caps are indulging in act of violence against another group.

Kishwar, passes this video saying it is from the recent Delhi riots where Muslims are instigators of Violence.  

Madhu Kishwar, is currently employed as a chair Professor in the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Well once I have been admirer of Madhu Kishwar, particular in the late 80s and early 90s when she was a secular and progressive writer and can be equated to Arunditi Roy of today’s India.

This was the time when there was no social media and Kishwar was taking cudgel against Hindutva protagonist Arun Shourie and Swapan Das Gupta who were spewing venom against Muslims in the English press.          
Madhu Kiswar through powerful writing in the dominant English press attracted many eyeballs as she opposed militant Hinduism. As she opposed Hindutva politics tooth and nail, she was a natural cynosure of many Indians like me.

It is a mystery best known to her why she did somersault and changed her colors to embrace the Hindutva ideology. I find such symptoms in Madhu Kishwar abnormal and bizarre. What prompted her take a U turn when she already had attended recognition as an academician and have gained considerable respect? It is certainly an enigma what prompted her to start championing the cause of Hindutva.

If we go Freudian theory of psychoanalysis, a human’s conviction settles by the time of adolescence or youthful stage of life and not when one gains maturity and has climbed the summit of name and fame.

Kishwar’s reputation has got considerably tarred, once she openly started writing in adulation of Hindutva. She is now being noted for her praise for Narendra Modi to the extent of comparing him with Mahatma Gandhi.

She had also written a book 'Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat' (Manushi Publications, 2014). This book absolves Modi, then Prime-Ministerial candidate of any involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots and effusively praised him as a non-communal politician.

I can understand politician doing the chameleon act, but what prompts academics to do such activity. Such a person is a shame, a slur on all those who are engaged in the noble cause of pursuing knowledge.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

OPINION: India’s Kashmir policy is an expressway ride to nowhere

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 February 2020 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

India’s exercise to ferry a group of EU members to visit Kashmir to assess the situation on the ground is a calculated risk or a diplomatic miscalculation is a talk in the country.

Modi government after arguing that rescinding Article 370 and 35A is an “internal matter” of India is now engaged in public relation exercise ferrying International delegation to Kashmir.

The buffoonery of India’s Kashmir policy is at splendid display when after saying India would brook no third party interference, now for the second time is hosting a large number of foreign delegation to assess the situation in Kashmir

Now given the political affiliations of these European visitors, what does this exercise is going to achieve for India is another talking point in the country?  Will these European delegation report will put Kashmir in India’s kitty or will it have adverse impact India on India’s claim over Kashmir. 

Why India is doing this PR exercise to influence international opinion. Do not by doing so India covertly acknowledges that Kashmir has an international dimension which it cannot wish it away.

Modi government on August 5, 2019 by rescinding Article 370 and 35 A has removed the ambiguity that prevailed in India’s stand over Kashmir since 1948.

The Modi government did a game changer act on August 5 and essentially made three statements altering the classical view of India’s stand on Kashmir. 
First, Modi government claimed that the people of Kashmir have no role to play in deciding their future. Since the territory in question is inalienable part of India, the views of the people do not matter.  In other words a new definition of democracy was dished out on August 5, and democracy is of the state, for the state and by the state.

Citizenship of India was up for grabs for the Kashmiri people, while rest of India had to reel under new citizenship laws under CAA, NPA and NRC. It’s another matter, there were no takers for Indian bait and on the contrary it funneled anti India sentiments among the people living there.

Second statement India made on August 5, 2019 that Pakistan has no claim on Kashmir. The bilateral talks with Pakistan can only be held if the adversary wishes to talk on the modalities of vacating its occupied region. This gave a huge impetus to Pakistan claim over Kashmir and it ascended on the moral ground to canvass of India’s culpability.  

The third statement that Modi government made on August 5, 2019 was that India will not tolerate any third party intervention/ mediation on Kashmir issue.

All these three statements made on Augusts 5, 2019 was to fix up the Kashmir problem in India’s favor with the assumption India will have its way and by doing will set the Kashmir house in order.  

If Kashmir is an integral part of India and India will not tolerate any third party intervention/ mediation on Kashmir issue, then why India is inviting foreign delegation to Kashmir where common Indian’s are forbidden to travel?

India on one hand says it does not want international mediation or involvement in Kashmir, but at the same time wants a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from some handpicked European delegates to blunt the international criticism building against India with regard to its Kashmir policy.

Modi government is also faced with another criticism as to why it prefers EU delegates over the US members. It is assumed that India can manage the EU delegation in a much better way than the US delegation. This in other words means US delegation may be difficult customers than the EU members.
India is taking a calculated risk. It may work or may not work in its favor. These very delegates whom the government is courting now may turn its back and target India for violating international laws in Kashmir. In such case what India may do, does it have a plan B.? 

Complication of India’s Kashmir policy is getting compounded with the visits of foreign delegates to Kashmir.

Modi government by taking the foreign delegates to Kashmir valley is self-contradicting its stand on Kashmir. It is deliberately internationalizing the Kashmir issue after saying it does not want any third party to interfere in the internal matter of the country.

As such, Modi government has fallen into Pakistani trap of internationalizing the Kashmir issue. It looks instead of strengthening its position on Kashmir Modi government has further weakened its grip over Kashmir. The visit of foreign delegations has compromised India’s new stand on Kashmir.

This public relation exercise that the current government is engaged in is nothing but a figment of imagination of that if it can get an NOC by some foreign delegates, and the international community will be pacified and support India’s wrong doing to the people of Kashmir.

India’s second statement made on August 5, 2019 was by rescinding Article 370, it has closed the dialogue with people of the Kashmir and have accept India’s diktat as fait- accompli. 

If this is so then the policy maker want to make Kashmir an Indian colony and they have to do the cost – benefit calculation to keep such colony under India’s suzerainty.

The second statement on August 5 India made was that Pakistan has no claim on Kashmir. In the new narrative Kashmir is inalienable part of India and in the talks to be held between New Delhi and Islamabad only the modalities to hand over the territories occupied by Pakistan can be discussed.

This again is highly contentious proposition and fraught with innumerable consequences. Instead of playing peace makers, India is openly war mongering challenging Pakistan claim on Kashmir. India’s this policy on Kashmir has many spin offs and may require full time occupation to plug in any fall outs from any such designs.

The last statement that the Modi government made on August 5 was that as statecraft it will use state terror to contain terrorism in Kashmir. In this new face of terrorism some nine lakhs guns is being used to hold hostage some 90 lakh people to maintain peace.  Can such state terrorism be de-linked with anti-state terrorism? In the context, can state terrorism be condoned to restore peace in Kashmir? Needless to say terrorism is terrorism, whether it is by anti-state actors or by the acts of state indulging in terrorism.   

To conclude, all the three statements made by India on August 5 rescinding Article 370 and 35 A are flying like muck on the Modi government’s face.

In fact, Modi government’s Kashmir policy has triggered several struggles at several levels against India.  The first one is it has triggered the Kashmiri’s people to struggle against India from the position of despair and total alienation. 

The second struggle it has ignited is Pakistan to take on India at every international forum. Indian officials in such case have no clue how to silence such voices when it has got moral ascendancy from India

Third, India’s Kashmir policy has incensed global community. The denial of human right, freedom of speech, internet and mobile access and the extra ordinary deployment of large number of Indian security forces in Kashmir has made the international community is too much worried about Indian state power abuse in KashmirIndia is finding it hard to counter this international struggle that it has ignited through its Kashmir policy.      

The fourth struggle India has ignited is within the peace loving people of this country. A large number of countrymen are at pain to see the trial and tribulation and sufferings of the common Kashmiri people. India’s ill-conceived Kashmir policy has anguished and saddened many Indians.   

The responsibility of triggering all these struggles solely rest on the Prime Minister of the country. Many feel that he has got away with his ‘demonetizing act,’ but his ill-conceived Kashmir policy may have a price to pay.

With all these struggles germinating against India, the only summery that can be made is; India’s Kashmir policy is an expressway ride to nowhere.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Stock taking dangerous trends developing in India

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 05 February 2020 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

It is for the first time in last 70 years or so, a government has come to power in this country that is being called as anti- people. This government had inherited a country that had 7.5 percent growth rate. Now this government by its deliberate design has not only slowed down the growth rate but has pulled it down to 4.5 percent. It’s hard evidence that this government is anti-people.    

The BJP government in its first term in office made a big noise that by “demonetizing the currency” many of the economic ills of the nation will be straightened up. It gave several other rationales for the government’s decision. Now, many reports coming into open shed light that this government did an act of human rascality to give deliberate pain and agony to the people. This is yet another example to suggest that this government is anti- people.

Then, this government imposed Goods and Service Tax (GST) that hit a large number of small and medium traders. Many businesses had to be closed due to harsh tax regime imposed by the current government. Some say that this government in order to promote crony capitalism has hit on the belly of its small traders.
In fact, since 2014 when this government came to power has done nothing that can be called development of the people. In fact it has played a destructive role in slowing down the economy.

Government has failed to address the core issues of the people like poverty, hunger, farmer’s suicide unemployment etc. In fact, this government’s anti-people policies have only given pain and agony to the people of this country.   

The current government is anti-Muslim. It has come to power with an agenda to harass the peace loving Muslim citizens of this country. Right after coming to power in 2014, government hit upon the cattle trade mostly controlled by the Muslims. It closed down cattle slaughter houses and rendered many Muslims jobless.

Then there were clutch of anti-Muslim laws enacted by the government. The first being ‘triple talaq’ issue, interfering in Muslim personal laws. Then abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and changing the status of Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. Then the Babari Masjid verdict of the Supreme Court went against the Muslims of the country. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) the National People Register (NPR), the National Citizen Register (NCR) were brought in to target the Muslims. The current government has made it clear it does not want Muslims being citizens of this country.

The most dangerous trend in the country is that the people of the country have lost faith in the Supreme Court, the highest judicial forum in the country. Its one sided judgment on Babari Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi dispute was anti-Muslim. Thereafter, its summery rejection of the review petition on its verdict has further reinforced the view that even having title for 500 years, Indian Muslim has no claims over its own place of worship.      

The recent Supreme Court’s verdict on post-Godhra Gujarat riots of 2002 granting immunity to the riots accused and mass-murderers gives a sorry account of the highest court of India.

The continued denial of the fundamental rights to the people of the Kashmir valley has not moved the Supreme Court into action even though numerous petition challenging government’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir is gathering dust.
Similarly, the Apex Court is buying time to give ruling over the government’s anti-constitutional Citizenship Amendment Act. The issues surrounding National People Register (NPR) and National Citizen Register (NRC) are also being overlooked by the top court. The Supreme Court's insensitivity on many burning issues has lowered the faith of the people and they are made to believe they will not get justice from courts of this country. This is the most dangerous trend developing in Indian Republic.    

Since 2014 when the BJP government has come to power it looks that media has become a caged parrot in this country. There is unofficial restriction on the Media and it appears that the ruling government has given a clear direction to the media that they have to praise the government’s policies if they wish to survive as private entity.

The main gag is media is on relinquishing its role as the guardian of the democracy and shun any moral ethical, objectivity concerns. The biased, slanted and pro-government media outlets are dotting the fourth estate. It appears people no more believe in the information given by the Media that has lost its credibility. This is another dangerous trend in the Indian Republic.         

Many international bodies like the UN, EU, and OIC have raised voices of concern at the current Indian government policies but instead of heeding to their concern, the government has engaged in either combating many international bodies and remains defiant to any such International concerns. Indian diplomats are full time engaged in doing his majesty’s service justifying the government’s actions before the international bodies. It appears the government of the day cares a damn about these international bodies and treats them as barking beasts.

The democracy in India is at risk because opposition political parties are complacent in challenging the government’s anti-people’s policy. It is sad to see that the opposition political parties are raising feeble voices against the government policies. In turn what is seen is the are caught in moral dilemma of being pro people may not be construed as anti- national. The muted response of the opposition to the government polices is the most dangerous trend developing in the country.

Monitoring the opposition political leaders throws the assumption that they fear being haunted like P. Chidambaram and therefore desists from opposing the government. This is another dangerous trend developing in the country.        

India is undergoing a metamorphosis, an ideological battle is on between a section of society that envisages Hindu India and a larger section who believes in Secular India based on composite culture, unity in diversity, peaceful coexistence etc.

The ruling government though professes by the secular credentials of the constitution in reality wants to impose its Hindu India ideology on the people. It wants to supplant the secular vision of India with own vision of Hindu India. After coming to power, the government has built a huge momentum towards their project Hindu Rasthra.

All these are because the peace loving secular people of the country are insensitive, non-participatory in taking sides in the ideological tussle going on in the country.

However, things have started changing and a standard of revolt is seen among the people. The anti-CAA protest has united the people have against some dangerous trends developing in the country. 

Their message is clear -- enough is enough, when politics is going to decide their future, it is they who have to decide, what kind of politics they want. It is for sure; they do not want the supremacy of Hindu Rashtra but wish to reestablish the democratic, secular and socialist character of India.    

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

Narendra Modi and Ram Leela

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 November 2013 | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The RSS has created a new Ram for the Indians to worship. His hanuman is Amit Shah. The duo had staged one Ram Leela or rasleea, the skeletons of which is tumbling out of the cupboard, which they are finding it hard to keep back and shut the doors.

Those who are not familiar with this story, let me put this in perspective. A young lady called Mansi Soni, befriended Gujarat Chief Minister and she was snooped by his acquaintance, the reasons of it is shrouded in mystery.

Ms. Soni hails from Bangalore and was selected as the landscape architect for the development of Bhuj city in the Kutch district of Gujarat. It’s since then she came in proximity with the Gujarat Chief Minister and the story begins.

It appears that one Pradeep Sharma who was once collector of Kutch district and now victimized by the Gujarat Government has filed a petition in the court alleging that Ms Soni had developed intimate relations with Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The fact of the intimacy is confirmed by the petitioner who saw them in close proximity and overheard their conversation during one of the official functions.

Subsequently, according to Pradeep Sharma, Ms. Soni confide to him that when she called Modi in his office, he would freely interrupt scheduled meetings, walking out of his office in order to speak to her privately……

One may believe this story or not but the fact remains that it has been submitted to the court and let it cast it judgement on it.

How does this connected with the surveillance issue that is hogging limelight now? Well the lady in question is none other but Ms Soni, mentioned in Pradeep Sharma’s petition. The stalking incident actually took place in August-September 2009, when Amit Shah was holding junior Home Minster’s portfolio of Gujarat.

A sting operation jointly conducted by two media outlet has produced audio tapes that reveal that the illegal surveillance of Ms Soni was ordered by Amit Shah at the behest of his ‘Saheb’ Narendra Modi.

The Anti-Terrorist Squad of Gujarat carried out month long minute to minute tracking, surveillance, stalking and phone tapping of this young lady.

The orders given by Amit Shah clearly come out from recorded conversations captured in the audio tapes that are submitted to the court handling Ishrat Jhan encounter case.

Prima facie facts that emerge out is that Narendra Modi through Amit Shah did order and carry out the most brazen, unauthorized and illegal stalking activity in the country.

Why did he do so? What was the motive behind it? The nation is seeking answers to it ever since this story broke out. This is more so because the common man want to know the motive before making choice for the Prime Minister of the country.

The BJP line of defence is this was done to ‘give protection to the girl,’ but this argument needs scrutiny. First of all why protection was need at all, from whom the girl felt threats? Even if we buy the protection argument, then a police jeep could have been sufficient for security, what was the need for stalking and that too for more than a month?

The father of the girl has come out with a statement that his daughter does not wish for an investigation into the politically charged controversy and has claimed that the surveillance was mounted on her with her consent.

There are two threads to this argument, one desisting from an investigation, and other to take on the blame. Both arguments seems to be of dubious and do not live up to the test of reasons.

The third argument is built by Madhu Kishwar, one time feminist writer, now doing public relations for Narendra Modi, calling Ms Soni a terrorist. She justifies the stalking that was done to check her credentials.

Well can terrorist be a landscape architect, who goes through the rigmarole of competing through open tender and wins the contract of Bhuj city’s beautification. Suppose, if she was not selected for the project, then was she still stalked?

This brings us to the last motive and that is Ram Leela or Rasleela of Narendra Modi. The 63 year old bachelor has gained notoriety for making livid comments on women. He had called Sonia Gandhi ‘Burhia’ (old lady) and Shashi Tharoor's wife, a 'Rs 50 cr girlfriend.' Even though unrelated, these comments point figures and his character. The Prime Minister in waiting has to come clean on the “character dhela hai” apprehension of the people of this country.

This episode also reflects the style of functioning of Narendra Modi. He is known for taking decisions that has resulted in post Godhara riots and fake encounters. Can India be handed over to someone who goes by his whims and fancies to run the administration of his state?

There is more than what the eyes can read in this story. The truth about this chilling instance of state-sponsored stalking must be known. The audio tapes clearly prove that illegal state sponsored surveillance of a young female had taken place. If that’s the case, then the stalkers, who are now equated with the rapist, in this case would find its place in the same category? If proven guilty what would be the quantum of their punishment?

It’s high time that the conspiracy of silence in this case should be broken. The patriarchal defence do not hold ground in such a case. The adult woman or the man in the dock should make the motives clear and bring the real truth in public domain. If they cannot do so, then an independent inquiry should be ordered to unravel the mysteries surrounding it.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

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