Friday, November 27, 2009

Kashmir Times - Guilty men of Babri outrage....

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Guilty men of Babri outrage
Will perpetrators of heinous crime be punished

The much-delayed report of the one -man Liberhan Commission, as presented to the Parliament along with the Action Taken Report, which in essence is inaction report of the Congress government, does not reveal anything more than what was already known. The vandalism of the historic Babri mosque at Ayodhya by the Sangh parivar goons, planed, organized and executed by the parivar outfits and spearheaded by the top BJP leaders along with Kalyan Singh heading the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, on 6 December 1992 was described as national shame and an attack on the secular character of the country. The genesis of the Babri dispute was too well known to require any investigation by a commission of inquiry. Still the setting up of the Commission headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan by the Congress government headed by Narsimah Rao, which apparently connived with the perpetrators of such a heinous crime due to its inaction, had raised the hope that justice would be done, the guilty men of the outrage will be brought to book and the injustice done to the country's largest minority will be undone. The casual manner in which the entire issue has been handled is obvious from the fact that it took 17 long years for the Commission to come out with the report, simply narrating the chronology of events leading to the carnage and indicting those who were known to be perpetrators of the crime. After keeping the report in its shelf the Union government presented it along with the Action Taken Report (ATR) before the Parliament only after parts of it were leaked out to a newspaper and the BJP raised a ruckus in both Houses of the Parliament. Intriguingly the ATR does not indicate what action the government proposes to take against those responsible for the demolition of the mosque and raising an improvised Ram temple at the site. The demolition of the Babri mosque led to serious communal violence against the Muslims and other minorities and paid dividends to the perpetrators of the crime with BJP coming to power. Having tasted the blood, without any reprisal, the fascist communal elements went ahead with their communal onslaught changing the very character of the country's polity.
The Babri demolition simply betrayed a fascist communal mindset which emerged soon after India's partition in the wake of transfer of power and led to worst kind of communal holocaust. It was this mindset and the same forces which joined hands to demolish Babri mosque and along with it the country's secular character, which was responsible for Gandhiji's assassination in January 1948. The involvement of RSS and other Hindutva forces in physically eliminating the Father of the Nation was too well known. Those who joined the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhiji not only escaped any action but have since been raised to the level of national heroes with their portraits hanging in the Central Hall of Parliament along with those of Gandhi only and other freedom fighters. The ban imposed on the RSS was abruptly withdrawn allowing this fascist communal outfit to spread its tentacles and pollute the country's polity and social life. Those responsible for communal riots and also for Gandhi's murder went scot free and were even rewarded.
The Liberhan Commission has clearly indicted 68 top BJP, RSS, VHP and Shiv Sena leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K.Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Bal Thakrey, Togadia etc for planning and executing Babri demolition. It has exposed the character of the fascist communal outfits in communalizing the country's polity and spreading the cult of violence, intolerance and hatred.It is doubtful that the Congress government at the Centre will take necessary steps to ban these communal outfits and punish the guilty men of Babri outrage. The fate of Commissions set up in the wake of communal killings and other such communal outrages in the past is too well known. The report of the Srikrishna Commission set up to probe the atrocities on Muslims in Mumbai following the Babri demolition has yet to be implemented. The fate of other such commissions like those set up following the killings and other atrocities on Christians in Orissa has been no different to expect any action on the basis of the Liberhan Commission report. The perpetrators of the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat including the State chief minister Narendra Modi have still not been brought to book. And what about the Congress leaders involved in the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984?
Intriguingly, the Liberhan Commission has spared the then Congress government headed by P.V.Narsimha Rao for its inaction bordering on connivance with those planning and executing the demolition of Babri mosque. This erodes the credibility of the Commission in bringing out the whole truth. The Congress role in the events leading to the Babri demolition is too well known. In fact it was the Congress government in UP headed by G.B.Pant which was responsible for the creation of Babri dispute and it was the Congress government under Rajiv Gandhi which ordered the opening of the gates of the surreptitiously raised Ram temple at the Babri site.Had the Narsimah Rao government acted firmly by stopping the Rath Yatra of L.K.Advani and acting against the parivar hoodlums collected at the Babri site the destruction of the historic mosque could have been averted. Such prevarication in the past has been responsible for the rising communal fascist forces in the country who pose a serious threat to its secular character. By failing to act strongly on the basis of the Liberhan Commission report, both by banning the communal outfits and severely punishing those indicted by the Commission, the Congress government at the Centre will only expose its credentials as a party which lacks faith in secularism and has a soft corner for Hindutva forces.

Menace of timber smuggling
Need to smash the powerful mafia

The recent seizures of timber by the police and forest department officials in various parts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts once again bring into focus the menace of smuggling of green and felled trees by the unscrupulous elements. This also brings to the fore the fact that this menace has been on the increase in the past few months in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The efforts of the government and its agencies in making availability of quality timber to the common citizens at affordable rates through their depots appears to be a half-hearted attempt in meeting the needs of the people. The dearth of fire-wood in the market particularly in the winter zone of the state is also another matter of concern despite the fact that the authorities have been making tall claims of reaching the door-steps of the people in various parts of the state. This is particularly so in some parts where people have been forced to cut and transport fire-wood from the forests to their houses to meet their energy requirements during the winter season. It is an accepted fact that smuggling of timber takes place only when there is higher demand and lower supply position from within and outside the state. Some timber merchants are making an effort to import cheaper wood for construction purposes but the initiatives from the government and its agencies has been a miserable failure. Right from the very beginning the idea of importing timber for local needs has been bogged down by charges of favouritism and corruption. That is the main reason why this initiative has been shelved by the government. On the smuggling front, the government needs to make theft and illegal felling of trees in forests non-remunerative so that these unlawful practices are discouraged to a large extent. Bu it does not appeal the government and there appears to be huge vested interest for continuance of these unlawful activities. Most of the people involved in these activities belong to politically influential families, who have been in this trade for decades together. The law enforcing agencies also dare not touch the big-wigs involved in these activities. On the top of this, a big cartel appears to be operating in this sector and everybody in the corridors of power appears to be sharing the booty at the cost of the common masses.

Communalism Watch: Politics of Babri Masjid by Kuldip Nayar

Communalism Watch: Politics of Babri Masjid

Sunday, November 01, 2009

*State of the Enemy* - *Manas Chakraborty*

Dear Shri Kishenji,
Sub: People’s War

Your latest outrage in targeting the Rajdhani Express has crossed all limits. As long as you hijacked some train that travelled from the back-of-beyond to some other equally godforsaken place, we didn’t really care. Losers travel by those trains. But this time you unwisely picked on a VIP train going to New Delhi.

Some of us might have had friends and relations on that train. They may have been killed, kidnapped, or at the very least, looted. After all, passengers get looted on some train or the other almost every week. That you didn’t do any of these things is due to the sheer stupidity of your tribal followers. All those guys took away was food from the pantry car and blankets, the fools.

So you want to pick a fight with us? You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. A recent study said 2 million kids die every year in India due to entirely preventable causes — malnutrition, diarrhoea, neo-natal diseases. That’s two million children of your kind of people, the kind who might support you. We achieved that without even trying, through mere neglect. And we did it democratically, of course. Who needs a war? Imagine what we could do if we really wanted to hurt them. And don’t think our children will be affected — they aren’t born under city flyovers, don’t live in fetid hovels and stinking slums and unlike the dead millions, they will grow up and go to America.

Robbing pantry cars is not going to help. The Global Hunger Index says that 240 million of the country’s population go to bed hungry every night. We’ve accomplished that just by looking the other way. Just think what we could do if we actually wanted them to go hungry. And it’s not going to affect us — our supermarkets will still overflow with exotic foods from every corner of the globe. Your people are welcome to press their noses against the glass and watch us shop.

So you want to fight, eh? You’ve killed 6000 people in the last 12 years, mainly poor policemen and villagers. You think that’s something? Why, the number of farmers committing suicide in the last 12 years is around 200,000. Just ask the human rights people how many of your supporters we and our organisations like Salwa Judum have killed or rounded up. In Kashmir, we’ve walloped terrorists armed to the teeth and backed by Pakistan. And you guys don’t even have rocket launchers. You are dead meat.

You know these facts as well as we do. All we’re saying is don’t incite these poor sods to rebel. We’ve kept them firmly under our thumbs for centuries with scarcely any trouble. Besides, we also have a soft side. We’ve given them democracy. Once we get rid of you, we might even take their lands and develop them. See how well we’ve developed the mines in Jharkhand. Some of them might soon be listed on the stock exchange.

We’ll also start some social programmes. We plan to reduce the number of kids who die every year, maybe to 1.5 million in a couple of years, then down to a million in another decade and pretty soon we’ll have, say, only half a million children dying per annum. That’s progress. You, on the other hand, are anti-poor and anti-development. We will bury you.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

Two Anniversaries - Ramachandra Guha, 25 October 2009

The weekend following this one marks two anniversaries: it shall be 25 years since Indira Gandhi was assassinated, as well as 25 years since 3,000 Indians innocent of any crime were butchered by gangs led by members of the Congress.

The two events were deeply connected. Since the security men who killed the prime minister happened to be Sikhs, the Congress thought it fit to take revenge on members of that community, rather than wait for the law to take care of the individuals guilty of planning and executing the murder. But then the assassination of Mrs Gandhi was itself an act of revenge, for her ordering the army’s attack on the Golden Temple in June 1984. Anyway, the fact that these two events happened so close to, and were so intimately linked to, each other, poses a problem for their commemoration. Can one remember and deplore Mrs Gandhi’s murder without remembering and deploring the pogrom that followed?

To help answer this question, I have been reading When a Tree Shook Delhi, a book on the aforementioned events by Manoj Mitta and H.S. Phoolka. Mitta is a respected legal correspondent, who now works for a major national daily. Phoolka is a senior advocate in Delhi; a Sikh himself, he narrowly escaped, with his then pregnant wife, from being roasted alive by the mob in 1984. The first part of the book, written by Mitta, rehearses the orgy of loot, arson, rape and murder that followed the murder of Mrs Gandhi. The second part, narrated by Phoolka, traces the long, tortuous and still unfinished journey to bring some measure of relief and justice to the victims and their families.

The book’s main title is an ironic reference to a remark made by Rajiv Gandhi, who was both Indira Gandhi’s son as well as her successor as prime minister. Speaking at a rally held at the Boat Club lawns on November 19, 1984, Rajiv Gandhi offered this laconic retrospective of the first week of that month: “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indira ji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.”

Had these comments been made on November 3 or 4, we might have explained (if not excused) them as the reaction of a recently bereaved son. But that they came more than two weeks after the riots makes one less forgiving. By then, the full scale of the horrors was known, and its consequences for the fate of Indian democracy understood. Four days before Rajiv Gandhi spoke those words, the historian, Dharma Kumar, had published an article in a national daily that chastised a senior journalist for suggesting that the attacks on Sikhs were a product of the “understandable resentment” among “most other people in the country” at Mrs Gandhi’s murder. She asked her own community, the Hindus, to consider what would be the consequences if they applied to themselves the logic of revenge and retribution: “Is any Muslim in Delhi, gentle Hindu reader, ‘justified’ in roasting you alive because of Bhiwandi or Ahmedabad?” Dharma Kumar deplored the pressure being put on Sikh intellectuals to “apologize” for the assassination. As she wrote, “I do not feel that I have to rush into print and beat my breast in public when any Hindu does something dreadful(which is fortunate since I would then be doing nothing else).”

While Rajiv Gandhi’s remark was in shockingly poor taste, his partymen were guilty of worse. In their book, Mitta and Phoolka demonstrate how Congress councillors, members of Parliament, and Union ministers were all complicit in the riots against the Sikhs. Some Congressmen led marauding mobs, others looked on, still others instructed the police not to act. The partisanship continued long after the bodies had been cremated and the houses rebuilt. After a public outcry, the Congress government appointed a one-man commission of inquiry into the riots, but made sure to choose a man without a backbone. He was Ranganath Mishra, a past chief justice of India, who strove strenuously to whitewash the sins of the government. This he did so successfully that he was rewarded with a seat in the Rajya Sabha, on a Congress ticket. Later commissions of enquiry were only slightly less courageous, so much so that the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was constrained to admit in the Lok Sabha in August 2005 that “twenty-one years have passed [since the riots] … and yet the feeling persists that the truth has not come out and justice has not prevailed”.

In the book’s epilogue, the authors compare the pogrom against the Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 with the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. As they write, “state complicity was evident in both instances”. The chief minister of Gujarat quoted Newton’s third law of motion, “his own variant of Rajiv Gandhi’s tree-shaking-the-earth rationalisation”; then, “in another obvious inspiration from 1984”, Narendra Modi “got the state assembly dissolved prematurely in 2002 in order to force an election in a communally charged environment”.

This comparison is instructive, but the authors could also have usefully looked backwards, to what happened during the Emergency in Delhi. Reading their book, I was struck by how many of the guilty men of 1984 began life as Sanjay Gandhi’s stooges. The Congressmen they name as either apathetically looking on or actively participating in the pogrom — such as Jagdish Tytler, Arjan Dass, and Kamal Nath— were brought into politics by the second son of Indira Gandhi. Could it be that the attacks on Muslims in old Delhi in 1976, the razing of their homes and the forcible sterilisation of their men, were some sort of precursor to the events of November ½, 1984? It was during the Emergency that Congress goons first realised the power that comes from being above the law, the power that comes from having at one’s command a pliant and sycophantic police force. In 1984, as in 1976, this power was used by members of the ruling party to intimidate and terrorise the minorities.

While this narrative of the 1984 riots mostly features villains, there are at least two heroes — the West Bengal chief minister, Jyoti Basu, who helped ensure that peace largely prevailed in Calcutta; and a brave (and, as it happens, Christian) police officer named Maxwell Pereira, who helped save the historic Sisganj Gurdwara from being attacked. The Sisganj Gurdwara was built at the spot where the ninth Guru, Teg Bahadur, was beheaded by Aurangzeb. (His ‘crime’ was that he sought to protect the Pandits of Kashmir from being converted to Islam.) Mitta and Phoolka write that “though history is witness to the persecution of religious figures around the world, Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is probably without a parallel, for he is the only religious leader known to have laid down his life, not so much for espousing his religion as for upholding the freedom of others to follow their own”.

This is an uncharacteristic error. For, it was in that same city of Delhi, 262 years later, that a Hindu laid down his life for upholding the right of Muslims to live freely and to practise their faith. Gandhi’s message was addressed to Sikhs as well as Hindus; an irony that perhaps the authors should have noted and commented upon. An even greater irony, of course, is that Gandhi was a lifelong member of the Indian National Congress. It has been said that the Gujarat riots were the “second assassination of the Mahatma”, but perhaps they should really be seen as the third, for 18 years before the slaughter of innocents in his home state in 2002 there had occurred a slaughter of innocents in Delhi directed by members of his own party.

Ramachandra Guha an eminent Indian historian and author, most recently, of India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy. This article is published in arrangement with the author and The Telegraph, Calcutta.
He can be reached at

Making Pakistan competitive - Dr Manzur Ejaz

Making Pakistan competitive
Dr Manzur Ejaz
If Pakistan desires to remain economically violable and respected in the region and the world, only defeating the Taliban or other extremist forces is not enough: the whole structure of privileges, feudal or state-sanctioned, has to go

While Pakistan may have a sufficient defence deterrent, when it comes to the economy it is no match for India or even Iran. The Soviet Union was more than capable of destroying the US and all of Europe many times over with its nukes, but no weaponry could save it from colossal collapse. If a superpower could not avert disaster by strengthening defence and neglecting the economy, how can small countries like Pakistan avoid such an ill fate?

The balance of military capabilities between India and Pakistan has not changed drastically in the last three decades. Pakistan’s ultimate deterrent was and remains its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan cannot prevail over India in any conventional war no matter how much it tries to match its arsenal with India’s. Therefore, if Pakistan’s military plans to continue its obsession of competing with the Indian military might at the expense of economic growth, it is making a fatal mistake.

India’s global image has improved not because of enhancements of its military might but due to unprecedented economic growth in the last two decades. It has even been invited to world economic summits, reserved for the top economies in the world, a couple of times in the last few years. Consequently, it is getting better economic and defence deals.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been on a slippery slope: perpetual economic crisis along with the rise of anti-state forces in different shapes and forms have undermined its economic viability and sovereignty. Therefore, it is being lumped with Afghanistan these days.

Like Pakistan India, has it own share of religious extremists and other anti-state forces, ranging from Khalistan to the Sangh Parivar to Maoist guerrillas. Indian bureaucracy is inefficient and corrupt. India may also have more complicated class, cast and regional issues than Pakistan. However, India has grown steadily and Pakistan has declined. So what has been the major difference between India and Pakistan in the development process?

Most commentators and politicians will say that India progressed due to the continuum of democracy and Pakistan lagged behind because of military interventions. But this is not the whole truth. Many countries like South Korea, Chile and Brazil remained under long military spells and yet they have made tremendous economic progress. As a matter of fact, South Korea, the closest example, tasted real democracy after it had sufficiently industrialised.. There are other pertinent factors that have dragged Pakistan into a deep ditch.

Probably the most important factor has been the existence and expansion of the privileged classes at the expense of the general population. To start with, Pakistan had no land reform, unlike India and South Korea, who implemented thorough land reforms after they became independent countries. Both in India and South Korea, not only did the distribution of wealth become more equitable but also, rather more importantly, the land reforms dethroned the feudals from political power and opened the way for middle class politicians. Most Indian prime ministers and presidents came from non-feudal middle class intelligentsia.

The other sections of Pakistani society who were part of the governing structures emulated the feudal privileges. Every section of the governing elite competed to gain political control and appropriate economic wealth. It was a brutal competition in which the mightiest military and bureaucracy led the pack though other sections had their share as well. Even Pakistan’s industrial-trading class used the state to the hilt for undue benefits to avoid world competition. In this environment, equity, fairness and an impartial judiciary became alien to Pakistani society.

In comparison, India abolished the feudal system and therefore the governing elites’ system of privileges remained under check. The highest levels of bureaucracy and the military, and political leaders could not accumulate wealth, and remained part of the regular middle class. The only way to be wealthy was through industry and trade or Bollywood. India had a large pool of entrepreneurs, and Hindu-Sikh migration from Punjab and Sindh gave this class a big boost. Therefore, India’s expansion of industry and commerce was inevitable.

The establishment of world-class universities and technical institutes has also played a great role in India’s economic growth. The graduates of high level Indian educational and training institutions helped the middle class enter the world’s best institutions and markets. They transmitted new skills to their home country and new avenues of wealth creation were inducted into the Indian economic system. Therefore, in India, money making and accumulation of personal wealth remained in the private sector.

However, in Pakistan state power was used for enhancing personal wealth and privileges. Probably, Pakistan’s higher level of officials from the army and the bureaucracy are the richest in the world as compared to most countries, especially India. Even the lower rung of bureaucracy and technocracy has received privileges in the form of cheaper land, creating professional residential societies. This is not fair to the private sector.

Pakistan’s ruling elites have not manoeuvred the state for only economic gains; they have also used the legal system to fit their personal preferences. Consequently, a lawless society has emerged in which genuine industry and commerce never thrives and only destructive forces mushroom.

If Pakistan desires to remain economically violable and respected in the region and the world, only defeating the Taliban or other extremist forces is not enough: the whole structure of privileges, feudal or state-sanctioned, has to go. Presently, entrepreneurial classes have no incentive because money can be made through much easier and less risky ways in Pakistan.

The Hindu :To be a Muslim in India today

The Hindu : Magazine / Columns : To be a Muslim in India today

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Arise Awake Stop not till the goal is reached. - Swami Vivekananda Swami ji is my inspiration, not as a monk but as a social reformer and for his universal-ism.