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British rulers demonized Muslim rule, sowed seeds of communalism in India: Justice Markanday Katju

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 April 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Justice Markanday Katju
New Delhi: The British rulers in India through re-writing of history painted the eight hundred Muslim reigns in the country with misrule wherein showcasing their Kings and Nawabs being intolerant, prejudiced and bigoted towards their Hindu subjects to create mistrust and deep rooted hatred between Hindus and Muslims against each other. This was done to strengthen the reins of power in the backdrop of 1857 uprising.

Thus, the British rulers adopted divide and rule policy to sow the seeds of communalism in India by getting the history distorted and suppressed the facts of glorious communal harmony traditions practiced by many Muslim rulers. The facts that the Muslim rulers in honour of their Hindu subjects facilitated celebrations of their festivals at the government's expenses and gave annual grants and "Jagirs" (landed property) to temples were obliterated. While the acts of a few greedy Muslim rulers who indulged in demolishing some temples to loot gold were highlighted and this was included in school textbooks to influence adversely the impressionable minds and create tension between Hindus and Muslims post 1857 uprising.

The British taking over after the end of Muslim rule in India crushed the 1857 uprising with an iron hand which had been spearheaded jointly by the Hindus and Muslims to overthrow the yoke of foreign rule. The history of communal riots in the country started thereafter which culminated into the 1947 holocaust following the Partition of India and Pakistan.

The above observations were made by Justice Markanday Katju, a senior judge in the Supreme Court of India, while delivering the valedictory address of the three-day international inaugural conference on “Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace -- Outlining Roadmaps for the Future” to mark the year-long silver jubilee celebrations of think tank Institute of Objective studies, (IOS), held here at the India Islamic Cultural Centre which concluded on Sunday.

Justice Katju said diversity is our asset and our guarantee for staying secular. India has been a nation of diversities as 92 per cent of the populace is the descendants of the immigrants who migrated dating back to 10,000 years from the North West to the country for greener pastures here. Since the India's economy was agriculture based with the land being very fertile the immigrants found it to be a paradise. "We all are Bahar Ki Aulad (the descendants of the migrants) irrespective of being Hindus or Muslims”, he remarked. With people of all hues kept coming to India and a common culture between Hindus and Muslims was developed which he termed as "Sanskrit-Urdu" culture.

He gave full credit to former Prime Minister late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for maintaining the secular credentials of India which has been the land of various types of diversities. Pandit Nehru was the real architect of secular India as despite being under immense pressure to declare India a Hindu state after Independence in 1947, after Pakistan had announced the establishment of an Islamic state, stood his ground and did not succumb to the rabid elements then. India has kept together through federalism which is catering to the diversity in the country. The diversity, reflected in the wide range of religions, castes, languages and physical attributes found among the descendants, led the founding fathers to draft a Constitution with strong federal features, he emphasized.

He said the British Government in England in order to tighten their grip over the their rule in India conspired and planned ways and means to create an atmosphere of hate, mistrust and suspicion between the Hindus and Muslims. Before 1857 uprising there had been no Hindu-Muslim conflict in India. However, thereafter, the British rulers engineered riots as there game-plan to govern the country, he pointed out.

Justice Katju based his contentions on former Rajya Sabha member & Gover
nor of Orissa late Prof. B. N. Pande's book “History in the Service of Imperialism” which clearly states that a glimpse into official British records will show how this policy of Divide-et-Imp era was taking shape. The Secretary of State Wood in a letter to Lord Elgin [Governor General Canada (1847-54) and India (1862-63)] had said: “We have maintained our power in India by playing off one part against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore to prevent all having a common feeling”.

Meanwhile, George Francis Hamilton, Secretary of State of India, wrote to Curzon:“I think the real danger to our rule in India not now, but say 50 years hence is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation organisation and if we could break educated Indians into two sections holding widely different views, we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan educational text-books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened (Hamilton to Curzon, 26th March 1886).

Thus, under a definite policy the Indian history text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subject and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule. There were no common factors in social, political or economic life, Prof. Pande had concluded.

Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind
It may be pointed out here that Prof. Pande in his speech in the Indian Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, made on 29 July 1977 had moved a resolution which said: “'This House is of the opinion that the main factor retarding cultural and emotional integration of the Indian people is the communal interpretation of the medieval Indian history and its distortion by the British historians, while India was under British rule, portraying the Hindus and the Muslims as being divided into two warring camps with little in common between them, and that this distortion paved the way for the emergence of the two-nation theory, and therefore recommends that the government should take immediate steps for the re-orientation of the study of Medieval Indian History ...”

Prof. Pande had said the task is not easy, because unfortunately the histories of India which have been taught in our schools and colleges for generations past were originally compiled by European writers. And Indians have not yet succeeded in shaking off the biases inculcated by their European teachers. These so called histories have presented Muslims as destroyers of Hindu culture and traditions; despoilers of Hindu temples and palaces; and brutal idol-breakers who have offered to their Hindu victims the terrible alternative of conversion or the sword.

It is hardly surprising that educated men in India drugged with such poisonous stuff from the most impressionable period of their lives grow up to suspect and distrust each other. The Hindu has been brought up to believe that the Muslim period of Indian history which extends over eight hundred years and more is a nightmare”, Prof. Pande had contended.

Justice Katju The Indian medieval history was distorted by British historians under the direction of British Government wherein the good deeds of the majority of Muslim rulers towards their Hindu subjects was suppressed. While in a selective manner Muslim rulers were targetted like Mahmud Ghaznawi who plundered the abundantly gold-laden Somnath temple a number of times for its wealth. It was highlighted to instill hatred for Muslims in the heart of Hindus. However, the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples has never been revealed to soothe the minds of Hindus. Not only this, he also enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters has never been spoken of.

On the contrary in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University it was stated that during Tipu's rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference. Dr. Shastri's book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.

Similarly, the fact about Aurangzeb, a man who is supposed to have been a destroyer of temples, having issued “Firmans” (order) granting “Jagirs” to temples has never been highlighted to change the perception of the common man about the emperor. He issued “Firmans” for “Jagirs” to Someshwar Nath Mahadev Mandir, Mahakaleswar temple in Ujjain, Balaji Temple in Chitrakoot, Amparand Temple in Gauhati, Shatranjay Jain Temple and various Gurdwaras. These “Firmans” were issued between the year 1656 and 1686.

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of IOS who presided over by the valedictory function, in his presidential remarks while praising Justice Katju for his open-minded rational views said his words should be written in golden words and his message spread to bridge the ever growing gulf between Hindus and Muslims.

Dr. Manzoor said IOS does not belong to him but the nation in general and Muslim Ummah in particular. He said that it is the endeavour of the IOS to establish a humane society otherwise there would be no beneficial knowledge and peace in the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Shahabuddin, a former Member of Parliament, lauded the efforts of the IOS for creating a platform for the social scientists, intellectuals and those from politics to come together and plan a roadmap for change. Lauding the theme IOS has chosen for the International Conference, he hoped the world is rid of illiteracy and hunger while justice and rule of law prevails all over.

In the beginning Prof. A. R. Momin, former Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Bombay, Mumbai gave a brief report about the deliberations in the three days of the International Conference. The conference has been fruitful and gratifying, he said.

Dr. Fakhruddin Mohammad, Hony. Secretary of Muslim Educational, Social & Cultural Organisation, (MESCO), Hyderabad, gave a Power Point presentation of the proposed Objective University Project of the Ta’wwun Trust of IOS at Palwal in Haryana state. He said that the university coming up on 100 acres of land will start this year having courses in Social Sciences, Law, Jurisprudence, Technical and many other streams. The Rs. 425 crore project university when completed will have 5000 students on its roll with 1000 faculty members. The project is a joint venture with local and foreign collaboration, he added.

Justice Katju released a book titled “The Islamic World: Dynamics of Changes and Continuity” authored by Prof. A. R. Momin. He also released a film on IOS which highlighted the 25 years journey of the institute.

Meanwhile, a number of personalities were felicitated with the IOS Appreciation Award for their contributions to society in the two sessions of the day on the occasion. They included Mr. Syed Shahabuddin, Mr. Kishor Lal and Mahant Janamje Sharanji.

Prof. Ishteyaque Danish proposed vote of thanks while Prof. M. Afzal Wani conducted the programme with aplomb.

A.R. Agwan, Chief Editor, IndianMuslimObserver.com
Meanwhile, earlier the morning a session was devoted to a seminar on “Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace in Islamic Perspective--Outlining Roadmaps for the Future” wherein clerics put forth their views. The session was chaired by Maulana Saeed-ur-Rahman Azmi Nadwi, Chief Editor, Al-Baas Al-Islami, Lucknow. Those who spoke on the occasion were Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Omeri, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, President Indian Islahi Movement, Maulana Anees Chisti (Pune) and Mr. A. R. Agwan, Chief Editor of web news portal www.indianmuslimobserver.com.

Maulana Saeed-ur-Rahman while summing up the discussion lauded IOS chairman Dr. Manzoor Alam for his versatile efforts in the field of education and social work. He thanked Dr. Manzoor for awakening people like him who are dosing and are unaware of their responsibilities towards society. Such facilities are not available to one and all. He offered Dr. Manzoor with the title to be called “Mohsin-ul-Mulk” for his untiring efforts towards society which he, however, declined to accept.

The Maulana said there is no segregation of knowledge in Islam as “Duniyavi Ilm” and “Deeni Ilm” as all knowledge belongs to Allah. Those who lay the foundation of their career on sound knowledge prosper in this world and Hereafter. “We have to broaden and accelerate our efforts to propagate the “Insani Tahzeeb” (Human Culture) which Allah has given for whole humanity and thereby lead the masses in the right direction”, he remarked.

Maulana Jalaluddin Umri speaking on the occasion said that when one acquires knowledge in right perspective then it emits light and darkness vanishes which is beneficial to oneself and the people at large. However, despite materialistic progress in leaps and bounds the humanity and its ethos are at the receiving end. This is happening because “Falsafaey Hayaat” (philosophy of life) which has been propounded in today’s world is denigrating to mankind. Man has been reduced to the level of an animal where all its materialistic needs have to be fulfilled by all means without giving any thought to moral values.

Maulana Umri lamented that nowadays the concept of development and progress is only materialistic in approach with no space for spiritualism in life. Thereby man fulfills his animal instincts only with no regard to high moral values which enables him to become a perfect human being leading a humane life. The purpose of life has become to mint money more and more to lead an affluent life irrespective from where the wealth is earned, be it right or wrong, he moaned.

He quoted the Holy Quran which says that with your wealth do not indulge into extravaganza but help your relatives, neighbours and other needy in society. The whole world system has to be changed to bring about into existence once again an equitable society with emphasis on high moral values based on justice, truth, communal harmony and equal opportunity to one and all, he emphatically stressed.

Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, Maulana Anees Chisti and Mr. A. R. Agwan also put their views on the occasion. While, Maulana Saeed-ur-Rahman, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, Maulana Khilji; Mr. A. R. Agwan, were felicitated in the morning session.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

BOOK REVIEW: Loose weave

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

The book is a study of the complex multicultural ethos that lies behind the gloss of the Banarasi sari.

By T.K. Rajalakshmi

The 1990s were interesting times. It brought about many changes the world over, particularly in India, where a transformation was taking place in the political and economic landscape. There was Mandir, Mandal, and neoliberalism. The effects of this heady mix on the Indian sensibility are still being deconstructed by scholars, anthropologists, sociologists and economists.

The Warp and the Weft is on the Muslim weavers of Banaras. It is a contemporary study, written with a rare passion, of the destructive nature of communal politics and what resulted from it. “It was a challenge, intellectually and politically, to try to understand a society different from one's own,” Vasanthi Raman writes in her 26-page introduction to the book. The weave is a metaphor for relationships; its tenacity and simultaneous fragility exemplify human relationships.

Vasanthi Raman, who is a member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, has earlier written on issues of social transformation. She has also been Visiting Professor at the University of Joensuu, Finland, and Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.

Though several others have done studies on Banaras, which is regarded as the holiest city of Hindus, Vasanthi Raman's perspective and the tools she has used to understand the momentous but less understood changes that Banaras underwent in the 1990s are unique. The book has nothing to do with religion in the sense in which Banaras has been looked at dominantly. But it discusses the politics of religion that was unleashed in the 1990s and the devastating impact it had on the communities there, and the “weaving of a resilience” that is quite markedly of Banarasi character.

The book, therefore, is about the complex multicultural ethos that lies behind the Banarasi weave – the warp and the weft symbolising the plurality of activities that produce magnificent silk. A poignant verse by Gulzar, translated from Hindustani to English, given in Chapter 4, has the poet-lyricist asking the weaver to teach him the skill of weaving and ruminating sadly on how he too had woven a relationship where the knots in the fabric got stuck out for all to see.

Vasanthi Raman's book is an anthropological and ethnographic study based on detailed field work among Muslim families. She is justifiably critical of the effect of the Orientalist discourse in anthropology, which, according to her, “essentialised the political and social differences between the two communities” and which gets reflected in the postcolonial situation. Maybe it was easier to caricature and stereotype the Muslim, ignoring the diversity within the community and imposing the only identity – the religious one – on it.

She recalls the work of the sociologist Imtiaz Ahmed, who drew attention to “the lacuna in empirical work on Muslims”. Her own hard work in the course of writing the book reflects her understanding of the need to study a community that was perceived as the “other” and, as she puts it, “the other within the other”. The latter “other” is Indian sociology and anthropology.

She obviously has misgivings about the manner in which anthropological studies have looked at Muslims. Her study of 70 Muslim weaver families looks at three dimensions: one, the impact of communal violence accompanied by a slow and sinister communalisation; two, the growing concerns with identity; and three, the gender dimensions of these processes.

“My attempt has been to avoid both the exoticisation and essentialism of the ‘Muslim question', to consciously steer clear of a voyeuristic interest in the study of Muslims, particularly Muslim women, given the extreme politicisation of the relations between the two communities, and yet, simultaneously to highlight the socio-religious dimension and its impact on their lives,” Vasanthi Raman writes with a rare candour.

Muslims form around one-fourth of Banaras city's population – a rather high figure compared with the general proportion of the community nationally. The majority of them are Momin Ansaris.

Her interviews, Vasanthi Raman says, have covered a variety of subjects, ranging from the impact of communal violence on the community, current politics, historically sensitive issues such as Partition, the condition of weavers, the status of women, leadership of the Muslim community and Islamisation, to the more mundane and quotidian ones. Identity issues, communalism and gender form the crux around which the book is structured.

Colonial legacy

The idea of Banaras being predominantly “Hindu” is a colonial legacy. The latter part of the 19th century saw Banaras as an important centre of the Hindi movement, with figures such as Bharatendu Harishchandra playing a crucial role. The early 20th century also saw the emergence of a movement for the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which contributed to and was fuelled by Hindu revivalism in the 1920s and 1930s. As in contemporary times, the revivalism in this period coincided with the obsession with numbers and attempts to reconvert groups from Islam and Christianity to Hinduism.

Vasanthi Raman believes that the BHU and Hindi movements contributed to the construction of a “Hindu Banaras”. This was in spite of the Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb (culture), which roughly spanned a thousand years and was epitomised by the Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan through his renditions and by Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, through his works in the early 17th century.

The Banarasi sari assumes a central character in the book. The importance of tana-bana (warp and weft), or the weaving activity as it is known, is perhaps exaggerated.

Vasanthi Raman deglamorises the idea of two communities living in perfect harmony. The city has a history of riots, especially since the 1970s. The communal tensions have very much been an outcome of the uneasy feelings that arose as the Ansari Momins began establishing themselves in the weaving trade. The partisan role of successive administrations only widened the schism. What began in the 1970s resurfaced in a more virulent manner in 1992 and after.

Gender relations

Having worked at the Centre for Women's Development Studies, Vasanthi Raman explores gender relations in Banaras historically, through literature and other sources, and comes out with interesting details. Fertility and widowhood are so intricately linked with Banaras; the Banarasi sari was always an object of envy for married women and wearing one at weddings was a status statement, but at the same time the city became a favourite destination for abandoning widows and young women who had dared to stray early on in their youthful years. And there was a thriving category of courtesans as well. While much of such information may not be directly related to Vasanthi Raman's subject of study, it nevertheless provides an insight into the deeply patriarchal character of Banaras society.

The construction of Banaras as a Hindu city was primarily by the British. What is little known, says Vasanthi Raman, is that the city played a significant role in the cultivation of Arabic, Persian and Urdu learning. But the Muslims of Banaras found no place in the standard accounts of the city. She writes about the Momin Julahas thus: “The trauma of being excluded in histories is humiliating enough for a community. It was further magnified in the case of the Julahas by the burden of having to live down the vilification of their community that was the staple of all writing and official accounts of the colonial period.”

The book has seven chapters, each rich in contemporary and historical detail. The first chapter, “Hindu Banaras: Plural Realities and Singular Representations”, looks at a lot of historical and ethnographic material on the imaging of Banaras over the past two or more centuries. It gives a good idea of the disjunction that existed earlier and exists even now, the only difference being that the agents provocateurs are different. The following chapter is an extension of the first, looking more at a specific community that contributed much to the sari industry but yet was stereotyped and demonised, thanks to colonial sociology.

Muslims of Banaras

The lives of the Muslims of Banaras are described in Chapter 3, which begins with a couplet of Kabir about the warp and the weft. The next chapter, “Communal Violence in the 1990s and Hindu-Muslim Relations”, takes the argument in the first chapter forward, but with a contemporary thrust. The argument here is that religious identity was always thrust upfront in the historical, primarily colonial, accounts of riots as if that was the real cause of social conflict. For instance, in 1809, where the earliest documentation of riots in Banaras is mentioned, all communities had come together over a strike over house tax – an administrative measure by the British. But this was glossed over by those who documented the events in that period.

This chapter and the one after that, on the worlds and homes of Banaras' women, are among the biggest in the book, perhaps indicative of the importance that Vasanthi Raman gives to both the issues. Chapter 6 is about the economic crisis the weavers faced, and the last chapter has narratives from “two remarkable women”.

Except for the couplets of Kabir or passing historical references, the role of the weaver of the Banarasi sari has never been celebrated.

Vasanthi Raman takes some poetic liberty by describing how the “Banarasi sari hides within its folds the secrets of the relationship between the Hindus and Muslims of the city”. Her humour gets reflected when she writes, almost affectionately, about how she had to sometimes curb the reformist zeal of Muniza Khan, the Registrar of the Gandhian Institute of Studies, so as to allow the ethnographic project of the study to proceed unhindered.

She says how the skilled weavers of the Banarasi sari were Muslims and lower-caste Hindus while the main traders of it were Hindu Banias. The inroads made by a section of the Momin Ansaris into trading were not looked upon favourably, and tensions grew as the crisis in the industry exacerbated, tensions that had to do with changes in the mode of production. The association of Muslims with the industry is almost a thousand years old.

Given the author's own specific interest in women's studies, there are two chapters exclusively on that subject: Chapter 5, “Of Home and the World: The Homes and Worlds of Banaras women”, and Chapter 7, “Walking the Razor's edge: Narratives of Two Women”. Hindu women, the author says, were the principal consumers of the Banarasi sari. No North Indian wedding was considered complete without the women of the house buying a Banarasi sari. It was a symbol of social status. Like the weave, the Muslim weaver and the married Hindu woman were quite interwoven in their common accomplishment, that of the Banarasi sari.

Weaver's role

Whether the role of the Muslim weaver was played down deliberately over the centuries is not clear. But what is remarkably evident is that except for the couplets of Kabir or passing historical references, the role of the weaver not only as a part of the production process but also as a significant presence in the social fabric, was never celebrated. Was it because the weavers were lower-caste converts to Islam? Or, was it an outcome of the “othering” that Vasanthi Raman points out assiduously in all her chapters? She writes: “The relationship of interdependence that has existed between the two communities has been based on the materiality of production in the Banarasi sari industry.”

But clearly this was not enough to cement the social ties between the two communities. The imaging of Banaras itself perhaps never went beyond the strictly religious. The women, as wearers of the sari or as courtesans or as widows, were incidental.

Vasanthi Raman goes into the intricacies of the weaving process. What is interesting here is that Muslim women too were integral to the weaving process even though the master weaver was mostly a man. But she finds that women too worked on the powerloom. But the labour, as is the case with much of women's work, was invisible. She looks closely at the way of life of the Momin Ansaris, the women and the children, and the socialisation process itself. Many of the perceptions shared by the Muslim women are not very different from those experienced and articulated by women of other communities. But there is an added dimension to this: the impact of communalisation.

Despite the interweave of relationships in the production and the marketing of the sari, the feeling of insecurity, writes Vasanthi Raman, is pervasive among the Muslims, given the character of the riots post-1990. Many plural customs vanished, she writes, and a line of control emerged in the warp-and-weft relationship. Boundaries, especially social ones, became rigid.

The other area that has made inroads into the plural weave is the market. Vasanthi Raman expresses concern at the fate of the artisanal family, the Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb, and the straining of tana-bana.

A sensitively written book on what is a sensitive subject, The Warp and the Weft is packed with details, collected and collated painstakingly by Vasanthi Raman, who often explains why the project was undertaken in the first place. Her deep empathy with the weavers, her generosity in acknowledging the wide range of people from whom she drew out information, her field work and the effort of sifting through existing literature on the subject make the book an eminently enjoyable and stimulating read.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

Indian Civil Society proactive in Kashmir

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Bashir Assad

Srinagar: If the views expressed by senior Congress leader and Minister for Water Resources Taj Mohiudin during an  interview  with  this correspondent, are any indication and if the interim report submitted to the centre by the  Interlocutors team  on Jammu and Kashmir hold any significance, the resurrection of decades old Kashmir Committee and Kashmir oriented activities by other civil society groups like Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA) seem to be in tandem with the Centre’s realigned Kashmir policy.

Pertinently Taj Mohiudin had revealed that UPA government was seriously considering autonomy for J&K.  Taj’s revelations apart, the Interlocutors have again hinted at to recommend more powers for the state to strengthen its special status under the Constitution. The interlocutors favour a political solution that “upholds and fine-tunes the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. While giving the state more political autonomy, the interlocutors want deeper economic linkages between the state and the rest of the country.

The pro-active role of various civil society groups and resurrection of Ram Jethmalani’s Kashmir Committee exactly after ten years is a clear indication that Centre is seriously thinking of a novel solution to the Kashmir issue by bridging the long persistent gap between the peoples of Kashmir and rest of the country. Genuinely so, the alienation and discontent in Kashmir is further compounded by the miscommunication between Kashmir and rest of the country. 

In helping to promote a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir problem, the Indian civil society groups have a very crucial role to play. The stereotype milieu on both sides, over the years, has culminated in hatred-thanks to the miscommunication rather incommunicado location of both.

Madhu Keshwar, a renowned journalist who is one of the members of Jethmalani’s Kashmir Committee while talking to this correspondent spoke in length about her new initiative of being on board to Kashmir with Jethmalani. Keshwar, who enjoys a very good relationship with both mainstream and Kashmiri separatists said that she was initially hesitant to join the group as she feared that people in Kashmir may see to it as one more “band baja” (noisy seen) but latter on realized the importance of such initiatives.

“There is a trust deficit and alienation of people of Kashmir is not only establishment oriented but they have grievances with the Indian Civil Society also and we are keen to work for lasting peace which is not possible without involvement of Indian Civil Society Groups” Madhu Keshwar said.

She insisted on interactions between the two peoples to remove the trust deficit that could go a long way in resolution process.   

Asserting that Indian Civil Society must come forward to help Kashmiris to come out of morass, Madhu Keshwar said that the Indian  citizens  too have the right and the duty of trying to do what they can to help promote peace in Kashmir, more so because they are uniquely positioned to do so.

She said that Indian civil society members in their personal and individual capacities continue to exercise a profound influence on vast numbers of Kashmiris.

Since last year a number of backchannels have activated in Kashmir, and almost all of these  enjoy a good repute among the sections of Kashmiri society. It was quite fascinating to see ex-students in Kashmir who have graduated from outside receiving their teachers from reputed Universities like Jawahar Lal Nehru University as they still maintain links with their teachers. 

Given this, I feel that Indian Civil Society Members could be encouraged to play a more active role in helping to promote peace in Kashmir. With the respect that they command among large sections of the Kashmiri people they could prove to be particularly effective.

What was more encouraging was to see a number of Indian Muslim groups and individuals have been involved in promote inter-faith dialogue and communal harmony in Kashmir. Film Maker Sayed Mirza, renowned Journalists Seema Mustafa and Zaheerudin Ali Khan are dpoing a remarkable job to bring Kashmiri Muslims closer to the Indian Muslims and I believe that they need to be encouraged to further extend their activities. In this regard, I feel that a valuable purpose could be served if Indian Muslim from different socio-political and economic strata could visit Kashmir on a regular basis and interact with local people.

[Bashir Assad is a senior Journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. He is now Bureau Chief (J&K) of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at bashirassad@rediffmail.com]

Muslim rulers deliberately projected as intolerant: Katju

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 April 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

“Indians are held together by a common Sanskrit-Urdu culture”

By Vidya Subrahmaniam

Justice Markandey Katju
Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Sunday (April 17, 2011) attributed simmering Hindu-Muslim tensions to a deliberate rewriting of history to project Muslim rulers as intolerant and bigoted, whereas ample evidence existed to show the reverse was true.

The judge also said that Indians were held together by a common Sanskrit-Urdu culture which guaranteed that India would always remain secular.

Justice Katju said the myth-making against Muslim rulers, which was a post-1857 British project, had been internalised in India over the years. Thus, Mahmud Ghazni's destruction of the Somnath temple was known but not the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples. The judge, who delivered the valedictory address at a conference held to mark the silver jubilee of the Institute of Objective Studies, buttressed his arguments with examples quoted from D.N. Pande's History in the Service of Imperialism.

Dr. Pande, who summarised his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977, had said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule.”

Justice Katju said Dr. Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during Tipu's rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference.

Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri's book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.

Justice Katju said the secular-plural character of India was guaranteed both by the Indian Constitution and the unmatched diversity of the Indian population. The judge attributed the diversity to the fact of India being a land of old immigrants, dating back to 10,000 years (Justice Katju and fellow judge Gyan Sudha Misra first propounded this thesis in a judgment, excerpts from which were carried as an op-ed article in The Hindu edition dated January 12, 2011). The diversity, reflected in the wide range of religions, castes, languages and physical attributes found among the descendants, led the founding fathers to draft a Constitution with strong federal features. “Diversity is our asset and our guarantee for staying secular,” said Justice Katju.

Earlier, a resolution passed at the conference urged the government to forthwith set up an Equal Opportunity Commission as recommended by the Rajinder Sachar Committee.

The resolution said: “The conference resolves that inclusive growth is not possible without equal opportunities being given to all sections of society, particularly minorities and other marginalised communities.”

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

OPINION: Prioritize duties not rights to kill corruption

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

By Nabeel A Khan

Sixty four years have passed but we continue to be embroiled in the spiral of corruption. We have witnessed all forms of scams in a series all this years – from coffin to bicycle to fodder – and with the passage of time the size of the omnipresent malice and involvement of people have been making a northward move. The story of corruption which started in India soon after the independence in 1948 when V. K. Krishna Menon, then the Indian high commissioner to Britain, bypassed protocol to sign a deal worth Rs 80 lakh with a foreign firm for the purchase of army jeeps. The case was closed in 1955 and soon after Menon joined the Nehru cabinet. Now the phenomenon is a part and parcel of life at every nook and corner of the country.

It is an irony that in a country of over one billion population every single individual shows (literally) himself/herself to be the most upset due to the spreading tentacles of corruption. But the eloquent enigma is that after all whose support has kept the demon alive. The only statement comes from most corner is that ‘nothing can be done about it’ and finally all the blame is smacked primarily on the politicians as if they have landed on this earth from some other planet. Before you get me wrong, let me clarify that I have no intention to give a clean chit to the white-khadi clad people and I know their vital role in the germination of dishonesty in the country. But do we not need to think that how can these few thousand people can overpower billions who claim to have abstained from the evil pie.

However, in this long period we have seen a number of campaigns and demonstrations against corruption but none has been effective. They came and faded away into oblivion, and in my view the only reason I see is all the while the main focus was to put full blame on a particular class of the society and no one emphasized on their own responsibilities. The proper execution of responsibilities or duties of the people is mightier than the rights. So if every one performs his/her duties and responsibilities properly it will ultimately result into fulfilling the rights of others. So in order to form a clean and corruption-free society, we need to shift our prime focus to act upon our duties rather than rights. And we really don’t need to be somebody to have duty and responsibility at whatever level or status we are we all have some attached responsibilities. Suppose you are walking on the road, you have some duty as a pedestrian such as you should always cross the road from zebra crossing and not coming in the main road rather walking on the pedestrian lane. Similarly if you are driving it’s your duty to give the first right to the pedestrian to cross the road. 

We all know an old adage ‘it needs two to tango’ so for any action there has to be respondent, single handedly nothing can be done. Let’s take an example of a petty bribery which is apparently the most common form of corruption in India – there has to be a giver and then only there will be a taker. And we cannot shirk away by just putting all blame to one kind of people as we have already seen examples  that no one is left from being party to corruption including educationist, corporate, sportsperson, army, judiciary, policemen, media, investigative agencies, civil society or a petty clerk they all have contributed to down rooted corruption in the country.

So, if we count the number of people supporting Anna Hazare for an anti-corruption cause, and consider that they all were really serious and committed then the graph of corruption should be substantially down with a sea change in the structure and functioning of a good number of departments. I guess a substantial percentage of people who were making a statement in the recent event at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi some how had the opportunity to eradicate corruption at their levels. But had they really stopped their direct or indirect involvement in any kind of irregularities. The kind of answer comes to your mind is the real concern. So we just not need to be upset with the corruption in words but also in action. The other concern is that just passing legislation is not enough, but its full implementation is the real key. We have a number of existing laws against corruption but had we been able to stop it. No. We have got Right to Information Act then why are we not able to save people who are risking their lives to expose the corrupt. We can get the answer for all this by seeing inside us as how many times have we really lived for the society and supported such causes.

According to a survey report revealed by Transparency International in December, 2010, 50 percent of the Indian had admitted to have paid petty bribe in the last 12 months to get their job done. And half of the people said that they paid the bribe to avoid problem with the authorities and a quarter of them said that they paid the bribe to speed up the process.

The other interesting fact which the report revealed was that the bribes to the police have almost doubled since 2006 and an increased number of people reported paying bribe to the judiciary and permit service divisions. Other shocking fact revealed in the report was that the lower income earner (touted as common man) paid more bribes than higher income earners. The report further added that the poorer people are twice likely to pay bribe for basic services such as utilities, medical services, and education than their wealthier counterparts.

Going by simple calculations of the presented statistics we will notice that almost every individual is directly or indirectly party to the pandemic of corruption and now only way forward looks is to start turning the fingers towards ourselves. The main reason for the launch of Voice4You is to call for a holistic introspection amongst the fellow citizen for a cleaner and corruption-free society.

[Nabeel A. Khan is a Delhi-based Journalist. He has started the blog Voice4You as a movement with core intent to give a platform to voice for rights and responsibilities.He can be contacted at nabeelkhan786@gmail.com]

(Courtesy: Voice4You)

Madhya Pradesh Christians up in arms, demand CBI probe into 'profiling' order

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Christian community in the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are up in arms and seething with anger over the state government's attempted move to profile them. The profiling order has been, however, withdrawn following strong reaction from the community.

Addressing a Press conference here on Tuesday Rev. Leo Cornelio, the Catholic Archbishop of Bhopal, has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI), India's premier investigating agency, into the controversial police order on "profiling" them which was later withdrawn by the Madhya Pradesh government.

Rev. Cornelio alleged that the community members were being treated as "second grade citizens". He informed that Christians will be meeting Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on April 21 in connection with the withdrawn controversial order as it has come following statewide attacks on our community in the last seven years. He said that the religious body wanted a detailed probe by a central agency into the order as it is an "indication of more trouble in offing for Christians".

"We are being treated as the second grade citizens," he said and claimed that the Christians "are living under fear in the state".

Rev. Cornelio, who is also chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Bishops Conference, said that the community members wanted the central agency to probe the person who had issued the order, the officers' responsible for executing it and motive behind 'profiling'.

"The order came at a juncture when more than 100 attacks have taken place on Christians in the last seven years," he alleged."Frivolous and mischievous allegations of religious conversion were being leveled against the clerics," the pontiff alleged.

It may be mentioned here that the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh had recently been in the eye of a storm over a police circular to profile Christians and churches in the state but the move was dropped following protests by members of the minority community. The controversial circular which directed all police stations in the state to profile the Christian community was withdrawn by the Police Head Quarter, (PHQ), of Bhopal. The Director General of Police (DGP) S. K. Raut has said that he "did not" issue the controversial order. The Director General of Police (Intelligence) has been probing the matter it is said.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

‘Anna Hazare should visit Gujarat to expose misdeeds & corruption unleashed by CM Narendra Modi’

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Shaktisinh Gohil
Anna Hazare – the modern Mahatma – must come to Gandhinagar to expose the misdeeds of so called vibarant Chief Minister Modi as rampant efforts are on to hide the corruption in the state by not appointing Lokayukta. This impression came to mind to this correspondent.

Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil blamed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the delay in the appointment of Lokayukta in the state and demanded that governor should take action against Modi for his unconstitutional act. Gohil pointed out that the Governor had asked Modi to appoint Justice S D Dave as Lokayukta, but Modi was sitting over the file for over one year.

Citing the provisions of the Lokayukta Act, he said that it makes clear that Chief Minister or Council of Ministers had no say in it. Explaining the logic of the provision, Gohil said, this is to safeguard the institution of Lokayukta because Lokayukta has power to investigate against Chief Minister and his ministers. Inspite of this Modi has not announced the name even after three reminders by the Governor.

Narendra Modi
Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court had last year suggested the name of Justice S D Dave and as leader of Opposition, Gohil had also given his consent. On the basis of this, Governor had forwarded the name of Justice Dave to government. But Modi preferred to sit over the file. He claims himself to be honest. But he is preventing the appointment of Lokayukta. This shows that he is indulging in corruption on a massive scale and all this is to prevent exposure of his multi billion rupee scandals.

Pointing out that under Section 3(1) of the Lokayukta Act Governor has all powers to appoint Lokayuka, Gohil demanded that Governor should assert his right of appointment of Lokayukta invoking powers of Article 355 and in case need arises, Governor should send a report to the President against Modi under Article 356 for his unconstitutional Act.

He described as false propaganda the statements of government spokespersons painting Congress as villain in the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat. Interacting with media Gohil gave details that tore into pieces the government stand on the issue and established that it was the Chief Minister who has stalled the appointment. This is just because Lokayukta can probe corruption by the Chief Minister and his council of ministers.
For this reason, he said, Gujarat does not have Lokayukta for last eight years. No appointment has been made since the retirement of Justice S M Soni in 2003.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Uttarakhand Chief Minister grants Rs 25 crore for scholarship to minority students

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

IMO News Service

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has announced that his government has decided to earmark a fund of Rs 25 crore for scholarships to students belonging to the minority communities in the state.

Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank while speaking at a function organised by Uttarakhand Muslim Rashtriya Ekta Manch at Kaliyar Sharif in Roorkee area of Haridwar district said that his government is committed towards the welfare of minorities and has earmarked a fund of Rs 25 crore for scholarship to students of minority communities.

“Efforts are also being made for modernisation of Madrasas in the hill state. Vocational training centres especially for women belonging to minorities are also being established,” Nishank said, adding that the government would also make sure that that there will be no shortage of Urdu teachers in the schools of the state.

Tale of two Gandhians: Anna Hazare and Irom Sharmila

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

By Mahtab Alam

Once upon a time, not long ago, but a few years back, in the year of 2006, Irom Chanu Sharmila, an adherent of Gandhi's non-violence and from the state of Manipur, hoping to be heard, decided to shift her 6 year-long agitation from the walled room of J N Hospital, Imphal (Manipur) to New Delhi's Jantar Mantar. She was on a fast-unto-death since November 2000 for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA), a draconian law which gave extra-judicial powers to Indian Army in the name of ‘countering' insurgency and terrorism. But for Sharmila and her friends, it was not so easy to reach Delhi as the state government was not comfortable with their decision of shifting the venue. Anyhow, she along with her friends escaped and managed to reach Delhi on 2nd October 2006, as her associate and a leading Human rights' activist from Manipur, Babloo Loitongbam tells us, "We never expected we would be able to leave Imphal with Sharmila." The team took an early morning flight and landed in New Delhi. After their arrival, Sharmila immediately headed to Rajghat to pay a floral tribute to her idol, Mahatma Gandhi. Later that evening, she went to Jantar Mantar to continue her protest against AFSPA and Human Rights Violations in Manipur.

A few years down the line, in 2011, Anna Hazare, another passionate follower of Mahatma Gandhi from Maharashtra decided to launch a movement against corruption and raise the demand for Jan Lokpal Bill, a bill lying in the cold storage of the Indian Parliament since 1969 and supposed to be one of the tools for people's empowerment. Like Irom Sharmila, her comrade in ideology of Ahimsa, Anna Hazare also chose the same place, Jantar Mantar, to launch his movement. On 5th of April 2011, Anna Hazare arrived in Delhi and headed for Rajghat to pay tribute to his idol, the Mahatma before reaching Jantar Mantar to start his fast-unto- death for the Jan Lokpal Bill. Unlike Sharmila and her friends, he wasn't required to escape or face any hurdles in reaching Delhi. In fact, much before his arrival in Delhi, hundreds of anti-Corruption ‘activists' and organisations were waiting for him. On his arrival at Jantar Mantar, within a day, the place was declared as ‘Tahrir Square' of India and his movement against Corruption as something similar to the movement in Egypt! What happened during the days and nights of the mega-event at Jantar Mantar needs no elaboration as the media houses left no stone unturned to ‘enlighten' us about the movement on minute-by-minute basis. Moreover, the movement was joined by similar kinds of fasts and protest Dharnas in many cities across the country. Within hours, Anna Hazare turned into the ‘God' and ‘Saviour' of the nation from being the ‘God' and ‘Saviour' of Ralegaon Siddhi, a village of Maharastra where he had worked for years. Interestingly, his campaign against corruption drew support of some of the most famous people who have been alleged in cases concerning to corruption like Lalit Modi and Jaya Lalitha, apart from a number of communal, fascist and racist people and organisations. Of course, a large number of members of the ‘civil society' also joined him. As all of us know, in Swami Agniwesh's words, ‘the movement shook the Government of India'! In a span of only 87 hours, the Government of India issued a notification accepting the demand of Anna and his followers. The media houses screamed, ‘India Wins Again'!

But what about Irom Sharmila, what happened to her movement? Did she and the people of Manipur ‘win like the Indians'? No, it happened like this. On the arrival of Irom Shamila at Jantar Mantar, she was joined by a small number of activists, students and teachers, mostly from Manipur.

Contrary to Anna Hazare's sit in at Jantar Mantar, in less than three days, the Delhi Police swooped down and arrested her in the midnight of 6th October, 2006.

According to reports, more than 100 police personnel arrested her even as Manipuri students and other supporters sang "We shall overcome." The reason of her arrest, as given by a senior police officer at Parliament Street police station was, "Her condition is critical and we have no option but to take her to hospital." After the arrest, she was first shifted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and later AIIMS, where she was kept under heavy security. There, she was not allowed to meet her supporters. Not even media. I distinctly remember, on 26th of November 2006 when I along with my friend Avi Prasad, with whom I studied at Jamia Millia Islamia visited the hospital to meet her and extend our solidarity, we were not allowed citing security reasons. Few months later, Sharmila was sent back to Manipur and she is still on fast. Last year, on 4th November she completed the worlds longest fast and it seems that she would be the first Gandhian, who would complete her fast unto death in the real sense as we hardly see any intention to repeal the draconian law.

It is an established fact that over the years, due to the draconian law, hundreds of ordinary citizens of the so-called disturbed states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir have lost their lives. Extra-judicial killings, illegal detention, rape, torture has become a routine affair for the people-men, women, old and child all alike, of these ‘disturbed areas'. The act has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high handedness by the one who is supposed to protect their life, liberty and dignity. And without an iota of doubt, the impacts of the draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA and PSA are much-much far reaching and disastrous than corruption. These are tools of the Indian government, through which it is alienating and pushing towards the wall its ‘own-people'. And government after government, no matter which partyis at the helm of affairs, is not worried about these people, norready to scrap these tools of oppressions. Because, it is not in the ‘agenda' of ordinary Indians, because they love the oppressors, murders and rapists of hundreds of citizens of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir, because, they Love Indian Army more than people (see picture). So, the Indian governments can't do anything which takes over riding powers from security agencies to be trigger-happy.

Anyone, who opposes and exposes the brutalities of the Indian Army and other security forces, is not going to get the support of Indians, no matter how great a Gandhian he or she is. In India, to garner support, it is not enough to be a mere Gandhian, but a Gandhian with a difference-a Gandhian, who can sit with the murders of Gandhi, praise the person who was responsible for genocide in the land of the Mahatma, back the racist and fascist mentalities and policies.

‘Unfortunately', Irom Sharmila disqualifies to be such a Gandhian and I am sure she must be proud of being ‘unfortunate'!

[Mahtab Alam is a civil rights' activist and independent journalist. He can be reached at activist.journalist@gmail.com]

(Courtesy: SituationAsia.com)

IUML leader pens book on Islamic extremism

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 19 April 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By M.P. Prashanth

Kozhikode: After a hectic poll campaign, Dr. M.K. Muneer, Indian Union Muslim League state secretary and the UDF candidate in Kozhikode South, has resumed work on his new book on Jihad, which is likely to create ripples in Kerala.

Dr. Muneer had stopped work on the book for about two months as he was fully immersed in the election campaign.

The book is a frontal attack on organisations such as the Jama’at-e-Islami and the Popular Front of India for propagating extremist ideas among Muslims.

“Jama’t forms the basis of the extremist movement in the world. It was the theories of Jama’at founder Syed Abul Ala Maududi that laid the foundation for extremism,’’ Dr Muneer said. Tracing the history of Jihadi movement in the world, the book also lays emphasis on the funding of Islamic extremism.

“Many of the indoctrinated assassins were injected with drugs to make them more deadly and the money collected from hashish trade was used for terrorist activities in Afghanistan,’’ says Dr Muneer.

According to the author, Maududi, Sayed Qutb and Hasan Al Banna were responsible for misinterpreting Islam to suit their needs. “In India, the job was done by SIMI, which was the student wing of Jama’at.” he adds.

The last three chapters of the book are on the Jihadi movement in Kerala. “I will detail the incidents like the SIMI camp at Wagamon and the recruitment of Malayalee youths for terror training in Kashmir,” he says.

(Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle)

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