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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Report on Kaligram Muharrum riot, October 2016

The report has been prepared using eye-witness accounts by social worker and technologist Bhaswar Goswami, who hails from Kaligram village and is currently working in Bengaluru.
Durga Puja is a time for celebration, Aradhana of ‘Naari Sakti’ and a way to worship mata for the emancipation of the individuals and the upliftment of the society in Bengal. It is a time when every household buys new cloths, gifts them to family and friends and celebrate the occasion with full merriment everywhere in rural and urban Bengal. But, the same is not true for the villagers of Kaligram, which is about 75 kilometers from the town of Malda in Bengal (location on the map).
This culturally rich and educated village has not known a peaceful Durga puja for at least three decades. Every year, Durga puja is accompanied by the horrors of Muslim oppression and aggression committed in the name of Muharrum celebration. This is especially true when both the festivals fall on the same day or close to each other. Each time, the Muslim procession used to cross this Hindu village, it wreaked havoc in the otherwise peaceful village. In 2015, the village saw gruesome Muslim violence [Read here]. This year the same has repeated again.
Even before the Puja started, as the villagers of Kaligram prepared with joy and devotion for the celebration, there was a fear among the Hindu households about the possibility of Muslim disruption and the flare up of communal tension, since Muharrum coincided with Durga Puja. Local administration had issued multiple discriminatory orders like ‘Hindus cannot play music while Muharrum is underway’, ‘immersion of Durga Idols cannot be done as per practice on certain days’, etc. These orders, though discriminatory were silently accepted by the Hindu villagers in order to maintain communal harmony. Yet, despite this compromise by the local Hindu community, Muslim mob attacked the village on the evening of October 14 and inflicted huge damage to Hindu lives and property.
Here is a chronological account of the incidence:

13th October, night around 9 PM: Hindus were busy taking their Durga Idol immersion procession through the village, as per Police guidance. Same night Muslims were celebrating what they call ‘Basi karbala’, a specific type of violent celebration for Muharrum practiced in Bengal.
13th October, night around 10 PM: While immersion procession was passing through the village as per prior schedule, Hindus got to know that local police led by IC Chanchal PS, had diverted ‘Basi karbala’ procession with thousands of Muslims brandishing swords, lathis and other sharp weapons. This was a clear deviation from the 24 years old court settlement that mandated no ‘Basi karbala’ procession to be allowed to pass through the village for ensuring safety and security of the Hindu life.
13th October, night around 11 PM: Hindus protested to the police and in return got flak from the IC Police. Moreover, Hindu women were insulted by the police administration.
14th October, early morning around 12 AM: Fearing the dire consequences of ‘Basi karbala’ procession passing through the village, Hindus decided to block the road by keeping Durga Idol and not to carry on with the immersion. This made the Muslims to change their mind and divert the ‘Basi karbala’ procession through outer roads.
14th October, early morning, around 4 AM: Malda police administration reached Kaligram with armed police and forced the villagers to take the Durga Idol for immersion. Villagers agreed.
14th October, early morning, around 5 AM: While most of the villagers were busy doing the immersion of their mata with heavy heart, police asked 8 Hindu youth leaders (Ratan Das, Siddharta Nandi, Suman Guha, Manish Sarkar, Gopesh Sarkar, Ajit Pramanik, Ramkrishna Das, and Advocate Himadri Das) to accompany them to police station Chanchal in order to have some discussion. After taking them to the police station, all were arrested, though they had committed no wrongs.
14th October, morning, around 7 AM: News about the arrest of the either people spread through the Village men and women decided to do ‘gherao’ of Chanchal police station in protest of the arrest.
14th October, evening, around 5 PM: Finally, giving in to the demands of the villagers SDPO apologized to the people and released the arrested eight Hindu youth leaders without any condition.
14th October, night, around 10 PM: Muslim mob gathered around the village with country made bombs, pistols, pipe guns, swords, lathis and other ammunitions, and started to loot and burn the houses. Rapid Action Force (RAF), which was deployed at the place came under attack as well. Two Police personnel got severely injured and the RAF men ran away leaving the villagers completely unguarded. Villagers called up Malda District administration in desperation, but the calls were unanswered.
15th October, around 5 PM: District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and other officials from the administration reached Kaligram with huge police force, but by then, the mob, which had already inflicted heavy damage to the Hindu property and human life, had run away. Around 50 houses looted and burnt to ashes. Two cars and one truck were also burnt. One jewelry shop & two grocery shops were looted. Cattles were taken away. Hindu women were molested. Three Hindu temples were vandalized beyond repair and their idols Hundreds of Hindus were left homeless and lost their life savings.
Now, that the Section 144 has been imposed by the administration and the central armed forces are patrolling the village, there is a temporary relief to the Hindu villagers. In the last five days, a bustling village has turned into a riot hit desert, with hundreds becoming homeless, including children and many infants, who are now living in other’s homes and consuming community food. No relief or compensation has been provided by the administration till now.

Villagers are running pillars to post in order to file FIRs and looking for ways to bring the issue to the attention of the entire nation, while there are attempts in the local media to suppress the incident in the name of maintaining communal harmony and the administration has chosen to remain a mute spectator.

Here are three video clips showing the damage to Hindu property in the attacks.
 Source: indiafacts

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Arvind Kejriwal: The Reckoning, Spying, splurge, nepotism and more from the secret core of the Kejriwal regime

Spying, splurge, nepotism and more from the secret core of the Kejriwal regime

SCHOLARS SUGGEST THAT the late US President Richard Nixon, he of the Watergate scandal who had at the height of the 1971 Bangladesh War described Mrs Indira Gandhi as a ‘witch’ and worse, often found it difficult to tell the profane and the sacred apart, consumed as he was by avarice for power and a pathological need to keep tabs on rivals. Faced with opposition within the White House to the use of wiretaps and break-ins to guard his political interests—which he euphemistically referred to as ‘national security concerns’—he once roared, “I mean I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in there and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” Snooping on political opponents for a professed lofty goal would later cost him the presidency. The Watergate scandal—he had got the Democratic National Committee office in a hotel by that name bugged—forced him to resign in 1974.

Though Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may seem to share rather few traits with Nixon, who liked to rant, swear and slur in private and sometimes in public, many of those who work closely with him report a temperament just as high-strung and melodramatic. In his book, The Crown Prince, The Gladiator and The Hope, his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) colleague Ashutosh recounts that under fire in 2014 from former colleagues such as Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan for his alleged engendering of a personality cult, Kejriwal became uncontrollably sentimental. ‘He started to say something, but could not complete. He broke down and as tears fell unheeded, he crumbled to the floor,’ notes Ashutosh in the book. Biographies and declassified tapes and papers on Nixon underline the high drama and emotion—for effect or otherwise— that characterised almost every moment of his. And now, documents of the Delhi government to whichOpen has gained exclusive access show that Kejriwal may resemble the tainted Republican President even more closely than meets the common eye.

As soon as the IIT-educated former RTI activist returned to power in early 2015 with a brute majority in the Delhi Assembly, it emerges that he began to put together a team that comprised serving and retired officials of the Enforcement Directorate, Police, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other agencies, and offered them secret funds, perhaps with the intent to run a body of sleuths that would work in parallel with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Shockingly, this effort was kept under wraps and made without securing the required approval of the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Delhi.

Nixon’s fate was sealed by a smoking gun in the form of transcripts of a recorded phone call to his Chief of Staff. Such glaring evidence of impropriety may still be elusive in the case closer home, but the documents smack of malfeasance and bring to light the unseemly extent to which the Delhi government went to install a Nixonian secret service division that would be under the control of just one man: Kejriwal.

It all started with a Delhi government cabinet decision on 1 April 2015 to strengthen the ACB by creating 259 new posts to add to the existing 116, and by bestowing greater powers on a few senior officers. The meeting also proposed raising the secret service fund from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh and hiring technical experts from the accounts, income tax, engineering, legal and revenues departments. The grand plan also envisaged the procurement of 68 vehicles, 70 mobile phones with accessories, 75 computers and 22 printers, apart from other durables, besides high-end equipment for data and research analysis and surveillance and monitoring purposes.

At another cabinet meeting, held on 29 September 2015, a proposal for the creation of a new unit—a feedback division of sorts—under the Directorate of Vigilance (under which the ACB operates) was discussed and immediately approved. The new division, known only to the grandees of Delhi’s AAP government, was aimed at firming up its vigilance department. The cabinet note said: ‘A need has been felt to improve the monitoring mechanism of activities of various departments in vigilance related matters. Therefore, a unit may be created in the Directorate of Vigilance, Government of NCT of Delhi, manned by serving as well as retired personnel to gather relevant information and actionable feedback regarding the working of the departments/autonomous bodies/institutions/entities, etc, falling under the jurisdiction of Government of NCT of Delhi and also to do trap cases.’

According to officials in the know, this ‘feedback’ unit of some 20 odd people has been functional since February this year. More people, Open learns, were hired later. The chief secretary, who is also the chief vigilance officer of the government, has been kept in the dark about its functioning. The exact nature of this unit— consisting of hardnosed intelligence officers loyal to AAP—be it their performance parameters, reporting structure and so on, have not been officially defined. 

According to officials that Open spoke to, the office of Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung discovered the unit’s existence only as late as August. Evidently, the cabinet decision to create such a unit had not been approved— as required—by the L-G, and in the process, the ruling party has come under sharp attack by bureaucrats for reportedly eavesdropping on them and others with mala fide intentions. Arvind Kejriwal didn’t respond to queries emailed to him by Open.
Amid cries of intrigue and deviation from long-held governmental norms, the Kejriwal government also approved the setting up of a ‘creative’ unit to offer consultancy services on infrastructure and other projects for a period of two years. The members of this group were hired through a Delhi-based human resources firm, Soni Detective & Allied Services Pvt Ltd, which, ironically, has experience mostly in supplying semi-skilled and unskilled manpower to companies rather than highly skilled consultants to Delhi’s Public Works Department (PWD). Strangely, salaries for members of this team were to come from funds set aside for the ambitious third-phase of the Barapullah elevated corridor project—in flagrant violation of norms. “For a government that often hit out at the Central Government for harbouring a hidden agenda against it, the AAP dispensation has remained largely opaque in several of its activities, as these projects confirm. My complaint is that the L-G is not being aggressive enough in reining in these kind of activities. The Centre also should investigate this,” says a senior Delhi government official asking not to be named for fear of being victimised.

Transparency in governance, the fight against corruption and the interests of the common man have been the three vital parts of AAP’s poll manifestos. In Delhi, the party won two Assembly elections in less than two years, the second victory being one of India’s most resounding ever. The party was voted to power by people who were roused by Kejriwal’s pro-poor image and call to overthrow a political system dominated by the Congress and BJP. The AAP also made possible a near impossibility in traditional Indian politics: it drastically lowered old entry barriers to parliamentary politics that had been raised over the decades by parties that tended to handpick poll contestants either from prominent families or party cadres. There was a time that pundits would compare the BJP-Congress dominated political field to Bollywood, where actors from non-film families rarely make it big.

The new party, created by Kejriwal and others after they snapped ties with the anti-graft Anna Hazare movement in late 2012, shot to instant fame on the promise of ushering in an entirely new political climate. It offered to make a new beginning, with politicians back to behaving like commoners instead of the dynasts that the country had got used to. Its genesis as a party of values only compounds the embarrassment it seems to have in store. The generous would put it down to the old saying that power corrupts. Others would say they suspected something rotten all along.

ALREADY, AAP’S PUBLIC image has been sullied by a raft of criminal cases against its leaders, including elected representatives, some of whom have been sacked by the Delhi government. Closer scrutiny only worsens matters for it. Documents in possession of Open confirm that AAP leaders do not always practice the austerity they so loudly preach. Take the party thrown by the Delhi government to celebrate its second anniversary at the Chief Minister’s official residence. It presented guests with an embarrassment of riches on the menu. At the twin events organised on 11 and 12 February at the Chief Minister’s home, catering arrangements were made by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), which got Taj Palace Hotel to lay out a lavish spread. For all the Gandhian ways the party brandishes like medallions, the cost of the buffets were billed at a monstrously steep Rs 12,000 per plate. This is far in excess of the ceiling for state-borne expenses for such functions. The maximum permissible amount the government can spend is Rs 2,500 per plate for dinners hosted in five-star and other luxury hotels, with an overall ceiling of Rs 4.5 lakh per event. DTTDC was later asked to offer discounts and raise a new bill. The first bill was Rs 11.04 lakh for twin lunches. The revised bill totalled Rs 9.9 lakh.
On 6 August 2015, Dr Nikunj Aggarwal sent a handwritten letter addressed to the director of the state-run Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya (CNBC). The subject of the letter was: ‘Request for application for post of S-R orthopedics’, S-R being short for ‘senior resident’. Written lazily and with scant respect for English grammar and punctuation, the letter said: ‘With due respect I. Dr Nikunj Aggarwal DNB orthopedics requesting you to consider my request for the post of SR orthopedics in your esteem instituition. So please kindly consider my request and …. Enclosing a copy of C.V here with. Yours faithfully Dr Nikunj Aggarwal.’
The CNBC issued an appointment order four days later, though there was no vacancy for the post in the hospital. Less than a month later, on 4 September 2015, he was named Officer on Special Duty to Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain, who, incidentally, is also Delhi’s PWD minister. Aggarwal was appointed to the post on the request of Jain. Why should a CNBC employee under contract be made OSD to the health minister so arbitrarily when there are several other officers of the Delhi government who could fulfil the demands of the role? The answer is simple. Aggarwal is unlike any other candidate: he is the son-in-law of Kejriwal’s sister-in-law.

If Aggarwal had a privileged stint at CNBC, he fared better in the ministry. He has been granted four extensions so far. While he was a contractual employee, the health minister nominated him for a management development programme for senior healthcare officials at IIM Ahmedabad at a fee of Rs 1.15 lakh (from 20 June to 25 June), though he was not entitled to participate in such courses under the hospital’s rules. Aggarwal also accompanied a group of state officers, architects and doctors on a visit to China, prompting charges of nepotism and financial impropriety.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government also hired scores of security guards—at high salaries—in state-run hospitals, arguing that doctors have lately been vulnerable to attacks by angry relatives of patients whose lives could not be saved, among other such odd reasons. The administration didn’t follow the standard tender- floating process for such appointments. Given the opacity, critics have reason to suspect a hidden plan to accommodate party workers in such jobs.
In a striking oversight of all norms on conflict-of-interest, the three security agencies that bagged the contract—Knightwatch, Innovision and SIS India—were also the ones that were asked to carry out surveys of the requirement of security staff in select hospitals in the national capital and submit a report on the extra workforce needed. In another departure from norm, only these three agencies were called for a meeting convened by Delhi’s Health and Family Welfare Department to solicit security proposals.

The pay scales for the new guards were decided unanimously by these agencies, and this, without citing the wage proposals made by rival agencies. The trio also included a bonus of 8.33 per cent and a gratuity of 4.81 per cent of the basic minimum wage in the rates quoted, though such benefits are usually given to staff members only after at least six months of service at a state-run institution.
Delhi’s AAP government has left no stone unturned in trying to reach out to people at large through various means, especially in states where it senses prospects of power. As part of a campaign launched in July titled ‘Talk to AK’, which features interactive sessions with the Chief Minister, citizens across the country are being invited to ask Kejriwal questions over the phone, via text messages or social media platforms. It is no coincidence that this campaign comes at a time when AAP is gearing up for Assembly polls in such states as Goa, Punjab and Gujarat.

However, the public relations agency that is advising the party’s top leaders—including Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia—has run into trouble over violation of contractual obligations. Much to the embarrassment of the government, Perfect Relations, which was awarded a consultancy contract by Delhi’s Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) on the social media campaign conceived by the Chief Minister and his team, is in a tight spot for ‘using confidential information for private gains’, according to a document procured by Open. At first, the PR agency had submitted a proposal for a digital advertising campaign on Facebook, YouTube and Google Hangout. After submitting an initial proposal to DIP on 6 July 2016, Perfect Relations later revised its offer, agreeing to forgo its agency fee of 12 per cent of the Rs 1.58 crore project but instead proposing to execute the plan on its own. Officials have noted that Perfect Relations did this despite being aware of the obvious conflict-of-interest involved in appointing itself the beneficiary of its own recommendation. A document states that ‘Secretary, DIP, and Special Secretary (Finance) were sternly counselled on their overlooking this evident first principle conflict of interest in this proposal. This is deeply regretted as non-assessment of the proposal on this count may have blindsided the Honourable Deputy chief minister in agreeing to this proposal.’ The DIP has now been asked by the private secretary, finance, to put out a new call for proposal submissions to enlist a new communications consultant. Payment to Perfect Relations is now kept on hold.

Simplicity in personal life and probity in public life are the core values that AAP leaders have sworn to uphold. Most of them are of humble origin and this lent them an aura of credibility when they spoke of being aam people along the campaign trail. The trappings of power, however, seem to have put paid to all that.
Consider the criticism levelled by the opposition against Sisodia for spending time abroad while Delhi was grappling with public health scares following a fresh outbreak of vector-borne diseases such as Chikungunya. L-G Najeeb Jung reportedly summoned Sisodia last month back from Finland to manage a public health crisis with hospitals struggling to accommodate patients. Kejriwal had been away for treatment in Benguluru at the time.

The frequent foreign trips of Sisodia and Satyendra Jain have not escaped the notice of people and doubts have arisen over their need. Documents reveal that Sisodia, who was on a trip to Brazil with a four-member entourage to attend a conference from 11 to 16 August last year, included in his itinerary Iguazu Falls in neighbouring Argentina without obtaining the approvals required by protocol. This led to the state incurring an additional cost of more than Rs 29 lakh, including transfer charges. The paper trail of Sisodia’s Brazil trip shows that the minister flouted Delhi’s prevailing austerity measures even before he departed by including non-specialists (and only one academic) in his contingent. He also opted to travel business class on KLM instead of Air India.

IN SEPTEMBER 2015, Sisodia visited Australia and New Zealand, again travelling business class on Singapore Airlines instead of Air India. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister also went on tour to London from 17 March to 20 March this year. This was to participate in a one-day conference to which he was invited by the student union of London School of Economics. He travelled with his secretary on government expense. “The fact is none of these trips are essentially official and are of no particular use to the people of Delhi. They are as good as personal trips,” says a senior Delhi government official who asks not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

From 30 May to 3 June this year, Sisodia visited Berlin to attend the German Habitat Forum. Documents say that no mandatory cadre clearances were obtained for the two officers who accompanied him on the trip. Besides, these visits were made without the required permission of the Lieutenant Governor.
Satyendra Jain has proven an avid globe-trotter as well. From 12-15 March 2016, he was on a trip to Malaysia to ‘study’ a rapid transport corridor (BRT Sunway Line) in that country along with a five-member team. He flew business class. Asked to reduce the size of his delegation by the Centre, he chose to drop a subject expert.

Jain also went on a ‘study visit’ to Stockholm from 25-29 October on a casual invitation made by the Swedish envoy to New Delhi. The 11-member delegation included an attendant of Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai. Both the ministers travelled first class. Jain and some others also undertook a ‘study’ visit to the UK without technical experts. Open contacted the office of the L-G for comments, unsuccessfully.

Admittedly, the amounts appropriated by AAP ministers and their hangers-on are minuscule compared with what has come to light in corruption scandals involving other political parties. But as the second official says, “It is usual for political leaders to travel abroad whenever there is an opportunity. However, these are leaders who have come to power hardselling Gandhian values over the excesses of others. That these people are also easily being co-opted by the system is unfortunate.”

Kejriwal would do well to remember the late US President John Adams’ dictum on the corrosive effects of being in authority: since power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases. Richard Nixon discovered this too late.

Source: openthemagazine

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

After OpIndia report, NDTV withdraws Sagarmala petition. Read why.

NDTV, a media company, filed a petition before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) making a “Direct Attack” on the Modi Government’s Sagar Mala plans. An Analysis of the proceedings together with news items threw some interesting details. NDTV in its petition has prayed for:
  • “stopping of work” on all new ports as an interim measure,
  • “civil and criminal action” be taken against authorities, governments and private companies
  • formulation of a “national coastal policy”
  • creation of a restoration fund
  • cumulative environmental, economic and social impact assessment
We asked some pertinent questions on this matter:
  1. How does a media company become an expert on environmental issues?
  2. On what basis did NDTV conclude that Governments deserve civil and criminal action for their “neglect, over-sight, and complicit actions”?
  3. Did NDTV submit any “reports” from “experts” to back their claims?
  4. Has NDTV challenged the Environmental impact assessment” as done by ministries?
  5. Is NGT empowered to direct formulation of “coastal policies”?
  6. Is NDTV’s demand for a blanket scrapping of the Sagarmala projects justified? Or does it reek of some obstructionist tactic?
  7. How is NDTV “empowered” under its Memorandum and Articles of Association” to take up “environmental issues”? A quick analysis of the Memorandum of Association of NDTV shows they have a vague power under Clause 3 (B) (32) to investigate value of any “asset” but it is still not clear if they can file a case or not.
  8. Are all the shareholders of the company aware of these antics of NDTV, which is clearly drifting away from its stated goals of being a media house?
  9. Any spend on legal and other fees on an activity which NDTV is basically not supposed to indulge in, is justified?
    Does NDTV itself being embroiled in numerous tax scandals, have the moral right to be pontificating on other issues?
The only tenuous link of a media company like NDTV to this NGO-esque action could have been their 2011 “Save The Coast” campaign which “highlighted” how developmental activities are hazardous to India’s coastline. But most of the above questions were extremely valid.
Now, on 16th September 2016, within 2 weeks of our scathing report, NDTV took a U-Turn.  According to the order passed by the NGT, NDTV had filed an application to withdraw the petition.
What made NDTV change this stance suddenly? The stated reason is:
Applicant wishes to withdraw this Application with liberty to file a fresh Application after averring proper facts, grounds and relief that would squarely fall within the ambit and scope to Section 14 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
NDTV claims that they now wish to withdraw the application, keeping a window open to file a fresh petition after verifying the facts and ensuring that the matter would fall within the ambit of NGT. So even if we go by this stated reason, does it mean NDTV had not in fact studied the facts before filing this application? Which means it was a premature move? Is this how they practice their journalism too? Writing reports and opinions before studying facts?This was one of the points we had raised in our original article revealing this petition.
The Sagarmala project was at a stage of infancy when NDTV went for the petition. Worse, they demanded a blanket scrapping of all the sub-projects on a flimsy ground. The Government had not even put out detailed plans. How and why had NDTV felt the urgent need to stall this project at such an early stage? This much they have admitted themselves that they had not done a thorough study. So what was the motive?
These are the stated reasons. The unstated reasons could well be legal and market driven. As mentioned in our questions, it was unclear whether NDTV’s Memorandum and Articles of Association empowered it to get into NGO mode. A violation of a company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association is a serious issue.
Secondly, as we had asked earlier, were the shareholders of NDTV, a public company, taken into confidence before NDTV departed from its publicly known business? Did any major shareholders apply pressure of NDTV to stop this anti-development petition once our report exposed NDTV?
Thirdly, the Sagarmala project will benefit practically every industry in India, and in turn Indians. Large corporates are also major sponsors of NDTV’s advertisements and various events. Did such corporates turn the screw on the loss-ridden NDTV and force their hand?
Whatever may be the reason, we must continue to remain vigilant. NDTV has kept the door open to come back and threaten Sagarmala again. Whether it is a face-saving escape route or a statement of intent is yet to be seen. But givens NDTV’s track record of being anti-India on many occasions, one cannot sleep in peace.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Ideology of Exodus – The Fleeing of Hindus from Kairana

By Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
On June 9, it emerged that an exodus of Hindus has been taking place over the past two years from the predominantly Muslim town of Kairana, situated just 124 kilometres from India's national capital of New Delhi. Hukum Singh, an MP from the Kairana parliamentary constituency, has produced a list of 346 families which were forced to flee Kairana, leaving behind their homes and businesses. The immediate reasons for the exodus include extortions, murders, targeted attacks and other forms of banditry. Though these appear as acts of crime, the important point is that all of the fleeing families are Hindus.
According to a report by Zee News, which brought the issue before the nation, the town of Kairana had 30 percent Hindus and 68 percent Muslim population as per 2011 census. However, the Hindu population has declined to eight percent in 2016 while the Muslim population has risen to 92 percent from 68 percent in just about six years, as estimated by local officials. Kairana is not an isolated case. There are areas in India which are called "mini Pakistan" – not by Hindus. A Muslim locality I visited in India a few years ago, a highly educated Muslim youth told me proudly, "This area is mini Pakistan." I turned to him and asked, "Is it something good for Indian Muslims?" As realisation fell upon him, he became silent. The religious nature of the exodus from Kairana fits similar patterns of forced migrations in history.
Health of societies is defined by movement of ideas. Ideas travel across time and territories through wars, technologies and globalisation. The consequences of ideas do not register on human minds because these take place over long periods of history, often across several lifetimes. Let's explain it this way: if we lived for 200 years and more, our minds would be better equipped to grasp how the society in which we were born has changed over the course of two centuries. Since our lifespan is on an average just about 80-90 years, our mind fails to grasp the movement of ideas occurring over the course of several centuries. In the 7th century, a movement of ideas began from Mecca as a consequence of which there are no Jews in Saudi Arabia today.
This movement of ideas reached Iran as a result of which today there are no Zoroastrians in Iran, originally their homeland. In the 12th century, this movement of ideas arrived in the Indian Subcontinent as a consequence of which there are no Hindus in Balochistan, there are no Hindus in Afghanistan, there are no Hindus in Pakistan, there are no Sikhs in Lahore which was a Sikh metropolis till recently. In 1947, it took a piece of ours away from us. In the 1990s, in our lifetime, Hindu Pandits were forced to flee from Kashmir. This historical template fits the exodus of Hindu families from Kairana. There are concerns that similar patterns of exclusion are happening in Malda and parts of Assam.A senior police officer who toured Malda recently tells me that cops are being treated as thugs and criminals.
As per this historical template, this movement of ideas makes it extremely difficult for non-Muslims to live in lands where the Muslim population rises to become dominant. The defining traits of this movement of ideas are: exclusion, intimidation, persecution, conversion and forced migration. For example, not a week passes when a Hindu girl is not abducted and forcibly converted in Pakistan's Sindh province. Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh, sometimes carried out in order to occupy their land, is considered a pious work. The case of Bangladesh is no different where Hindus are being persecuted and systematically murdered.
But there are counterfeit liberal editors who give examples of Hindu-Muslim unity. Such examples are isolated acts of humanism, not outstanding patterns of communal behaviour that can be described as features of modern civilisation. Exclusionary religions counter pluralism. On Twitter, senior journalist R. Jagannathan tells me that religions need not change, but their adherents must change in support of pluralism. Like Islam, Christianity, being a monotheistic religion, is also exclusionary but its adherents have changed liberally, notably in America and Europe. In the United States, Christians allow their churches to be used by Muslims for Friday prayer, sometimes for a fee. However, Muslims will never allow their mosques to be used by Hindus for any ritual.
Contrast this with a common scene in the inner circle of New Delhi's Connaught Place where Hindus make way to allow Muslims to offer weekly Friday prayers on public property. The best example of exclusionary practices rooted in religion can be given from the activities of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. While we see many Hindus defending Muslim riot victims in Gujarat and many others parts of India, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind tracks riot victims and innocents lodged in prisons, and ensures first that they are believers of Islam before taking up their cases. If Hindus were to do the same before helping riots victims, they will be called bigots.
It will be against the historical template of this exclusionary practice to argue that cases like the exodus of Hindus from Kashmir and Kairana will not happen again. Currently, this exclusionary practice is enabled by the Indian state. For example, the rationale of the Indian state demands that Kamlesh Tiwari, the Hindu man held for derogatory remark against Prophet Muhammad, be arrested. Although India does not have Islam's blasphemy law, practically it enforces the blasphemy laws prevalent in other Muslim countries. For example, Kamlesh Tiwari has been languishing in prison under the National Security Act (NSA) without any court hearing. Tiwari's detention is a blot on the face of the Indian republic, as most democracies today do not allow any person, not even a terrorist, to be in imprison without charge.
Contrast this behaviour of the Indian state towards Kamlesh Tiwari with its behaviour towards a set of Islamic clerics led by Maulana Anwarul Haq Sadiq of Bijnor who went in public, on Indian television, to announce a reward of 51 lakh rupees for anyone who could behead Tiwari whether in prison or outside. All of these clerics are free because the rationale of the Indian state demands that Muslim thugs will not be arrested while any Hindu can be arrested for bad behaviour. I have also been reliably informed that Tiwari's arrest enjoys the support of the Home Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh. At issue is not Rajnath Singh but the historical template that has become the rationale of the Indian state. This rationale demands that the president of India organise Iftar parties every year at the expense of the taxpayer while not organising religious events of other religions.
Until this rationale of the Indian state is defeated electorally, politically and constitutionally, please prepare for this historical template to reproduce more examples like Kairana. The question is also this: what can the Indian state do? It will be too much to expect from the current centre-right government in New Delhi. Much like the Congress governments practised secularism and quota politics, the current centre-right government believes in giving Muslims Sufism – not mathematics, economics and physics to Muslim girls from grade one through 12. This outstanding rationale of the Indian republic must be countered so that India becomes an authentic republic with zero tolerance for anyone who breaks law.
For India to establish itself as a Great Power, the rule of law is the only hope. Currently, the rule of law is routinely mauled by cops who rob poor thela walas for a weekly extortion of ten rupees. Therefore, cops are morally incompetent to secure the Indian republic for our future generations. Here is also something to do: India could invest $100 billion and more in upgrading the last-mile police stations and get foreigners to train cops in professionalism, due process and honesty.
Tufail Ahmad is author of "Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim."
Source: newageislam

A campaign of terror: The Pakistanis may never have Kashmir, but their violence has transformed it

C Christine Fair
Feigning outrage at the killing of Pakistan-backed Hizbul Mujahideen commanderBurhan Wani, Pakistan’s civilian-led government decried his killing by Indian security forces as “deplorable and condemnable”. This group is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, and India alike. This conniption once again exposed Pakistan’s unstinting support for the zoo of Islamist terrorists that it uses to achieve its foreign policy objectives in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The timing of this charade is not coincidental: it is contemporaneous with mounting criticisms over Pakistani human rights abuses in Balochistan as it tries to crush any and all opposition to the infamous “China Pakistan Economic Corridor”.  Pakistan explicitly counters criticism over its activities in Balochistan with reference to Indian security force’s killings in Kashmir. This is yet another Pakistani false equivalence.
It must be said bluntly that in Kashmir, Pakistan has no legal equities. Neither theIndian Independence Act of 1947 nor the Radcliffe Boundary Commission accord Pakistan any right to Kashmir. As is well-known, the Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh only acceded to India after Pakistan dispatched irregular forces to seize the terrain by force.
As the work of Shuja Nawaz – the brother of a deceased army chief – makes clear, these were not non-state actors. In its effort to seize Kashmir through warfare in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999 and by supporting a menagerie of terrorists since 1947 and an intense proxy war since 1989, Pakistan has demonstrated that it actually has little regard for the Kashmiris themselves.
As the Pakistanis sought to exploit the indigenous uprising that began in 1989, it raised and dispatched Deobandi and Salafist terrorist organisations such as Jaish-e-Muhammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba respectively, precisely because they have no regard for Kashmiri culture and beliefs. Whereas their Kashmiri proxies were more reticent to kill civilians and attack sufi shrines, these terrorists have shown no compunction.
They also sustained a reign of terror against women who do not veil as they demand by throwing acid on their faces and other crimes. The consequences of this are visible to any long-time observer. When I first visited the Valley in 1991, I never saw a woman in a black burqa with niqab. Instead women wore a scarf tied behind their necks. Now the black burqa, niqab and even socks and gloves are ubiquitous even beyond the cities and towns. The Pakistanis may never have Kashmir, but their violence has transformed it.
Turning to the most recent events, it is well-known that the recent episode of stone pelting has Pakistani backing. The stone pelting has had the intended consequences of goading Kashmir’s poorly equipped and poorly trained police into killing civilians who are protesting. About 80 people have been killed in this recent campaign of Pakistan-sponsored uprising and state response.
To be clear, it is extremely unfortunate that these deaths have occurred. And indeed, the Indian government needs to find other ways of managing crowds than looking for the chimerical non-lethal weapons. If Kashmir’s police had proper riot gear and personal protective equipment, the urge to fire at stone pelters would likely diminish. This would benefit India as it would deprive Pakistan of the result it so craves. But this incident reveals more than anything that Pakistan is willing to orchestrate the deaths of Kashmiris for its own political aims.
The vacuity of the so-called concern about Kashmir is reinforced by the complete omission of any mention of the Kashmiri Pandits who were ethnically cleansed by Pakistan-backed terrorists in 1990. Why does the “Kashmir problem” only centre on Muslims in the Valley and not any of the other lawful residents of the state?
Finally, the Pakistani civilian and military leadership continue to renew their demands that all UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir be fulfilled. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, continues to opine that “non-implementation of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Kashmir issue is a travesty of law”. She, like other Pakistanis making these insensate claims, are banking on the fact that most people have never read the hallowed resolutions.
I have and the language is clear. Pakistan was to first withdraw all non-Kashmiri persons from the area, including regular and irregular security forces. Then and only then, India was to demilitarise as well. However, India was allowed to retain enough forces to protect against further Pakistani incursions. Once both of these sequential steps were taken to the satisfaction of a UN appointed body, then the arrangements for a plebiscite were to take place. Pakistanis yammering about the non-implementation of this accord have only themselves to blame.
Turning to the issue of Balochistan on the one hand and the recent events in Kashmir on the other: both campaigns of violence are manifestations of Pakistani policy. The Pakistan army, along with the Frontier Corps and its various intelligence agencies are waging an all-out war against the Baloch to clear the province for Chinese economic exploitation. There are no estimates of the casualties or of the persons who havedisappeared. There is no accounting for the whereabouts of these myriad disappeared persons.
By law, the US is required to impose Leahy Amendment sanctions on any military unit engaging in human rights violations. The Pakistan military is waging this war with the subsidy of the US, which so far has shown nothing but pusillanimity in contending with Pakistan even though Pakistan is the root cause of American failures in Afghanistan.

Source: timesofindia

Uri attack: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, why is only India anxious?

Tufail Ahmad Sep 22, 2016 8:39 IST
Uri attack: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, why is only India anxious?
The known enemy attacks us in known ways and in known places. We are taught that Mahmud Ghazni launched 17 attacks on Indian cities during 1000–1027 CE, through known means, through known routes, seizing the Somnath temple in Gujarat in the final invasion. But we are not taught that each time we waited for him to do so, we did not go beyond our borders to prevent him, to tame him, to fight him, to eliminate him. In history, you wouldn't find instances when a known enemy torments an entire people so many times and they don't respond. Much like Mahmud Ghazni, Pakistan, the known enemy, torments us in Jammu & Kashmir. Each time, we have prior intelligence input. Each time, we wait. Each time, we do not engineer a response.
The 18 September attack at Uri is perhaps the worst Pakistani attack since the Kaluchak attack of 14 May, 2002 when three soldiers, 18 relatives of Indian soldiers and ten civilians were killed. On 2 January this year, the enemy stormed the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, killing seven soldiers. It succeeded because Indian policemen in Punjab were hand-in-glove with the enemies to earn money via illicit drugs routes. Similar attacks have taken place in Jammu & Kashmir regularly. Even after the enemy invaded Kargil in 1999, the largest jihadist war in modern times executed by Pakistan, we chose to serve biryani to General Pervez Musharraf, our tormentor in chief. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs. It is only the Indian mind that feels threatened.
Pakistan the enemy camouflages successfully for modern times. It calls its state-backed terrorists "non-state actors", the world believes in this phrase. It calls its terrorists "good Taliban", it takes years to explain it to Europeans and Americans that "good" in this context means evil. It sends a writer to visit Sufi shrines of Delhi and write a book. Indians develop trust in the author of the book, Delhi by Heart, a title given by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the creator of Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban. The book's purpose is to insert the author in Track II diplomacy. The enemy sends a saree to the mother of its enemy leader. The cost of the saree is: seven soldiers killed in Pathankot and the bruised confidence of 1.25 billion Indians. In warfare, camouflaging your way into the enemy's defences is a successful strategy. Pakistan does it well.
Lieutenant-General A A K Niazi, the commander of Pakistani troops who surrendered at the fall of Dhaka in 1971, had served during the World War II on the Burma front. In 1964, Niazi, then a brigadier, argued that a weak state like Pakistan must rely on a strategy of infiltration which "implies bypassing of enemy posts by relatively small parties which penetrate deep and unseen into the defences and converge at a pre-designated objective" or "lie down in the enemy area and remain there for extended periods if needed." "The adoption of these [infiltration] tactics by the lesser developed nations like ours is a compelling necessity," he added. Niazi's strategy and the jihadist mindset of the Pakistani army is detailed by C Christine Fair in her book, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War.
Pakistan has always used this strategy of infiltration and guerrilla warfare either during the Operation Gibraltar that led to the 1965 war, in Kargil in 1999, on 26/11 in Mumbai and later through the attacks by the Indian Mujahideen in parts of India, and consistently, persistently and aggressively through past nearly three decades in Jammu & Kashmir. The behaviour of the enemy is familiar; its strategy is known to us. Even if India were to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan, the nature of the enemy is such that it will begin targeting other regions of India. Despite knowing this enemy, India's strategy to counter it is not ready, not known, not effective, not consequential. But the enemy, like Mahmud Ghazni, will strike again and again. This tactic has Islamic lineage.
In his book, Pakistan Mein Tehzeeb Ka Irtiqa, Sibte Hassan (1912-1986), an Indian-Pakistani Marxist who graduated from the Aligarh Muslim University, narrates how Muhammad bin Qasim was not the first Islamic invader of India. The Islamic attacks against Sindh and Balochistan had begun as early as during the era of Umar ibn Khattab, the second caliph of Islam who ruled from 634 to 644 CE. The first attack, which Sibte Hassan says was without consent from Umar but authorised by a local governor in Bahrain, was led by Mugheera ibn Abi Al-Aas and targeted against a port at Debal, near Karachi. Usman ibn Affan, the third Islamic caliph who ruled from 644 to 656 CE, considered an attack on Sindh by land. At that time Makran, a part of Balochistan, was already ruled by a Muslim governor.
When Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (reigned 661–680 CE) – the first ruler of the Umayyad dynasty – became the caliph, he sent several military expeditions: led by Abdullah bin Sawwar Abdi, by Rashid bin Umru, by Sanan bin Salmah (all names as per phonetics). All of these military raids ended in defeat. Sibte Hassan writes that when Hajjaj bin Yousef became the Governor of Iraq in 694 CE, he finally made up his mind to conquer Sindh and selected his son-in-law Muhammad bin Qasim to lead the invasion. Qasim registered many victories during 712-715 CE. The Muslim conquerors before Muhammad bin Qasim and after him have not stopped in their glories because Islam requires Muslims to conquer all the lands. The Quranic verse 8:39 commands: "And fight them until there is no fitnah and (until) the religion, all of it, is for Allah…" The word fitnah is translated as mischief but in Islamic literature, it means everything that is not Islamic. Similarly, the word "fight" in this verse is actually: Qatelu-hum, whose accurate meaning is "kill them."
The Kashmir conflict today is rooted in Pakistan's religious identity. The Kalima, or the words proclaiming one's faith in Islam, reads: La Ilaha Illalah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah. Its actual translation is: there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger. But in Pakistan, Islamic clerics have translated it differently as reflected in the wildly popular slogan among Pakistani people: "Pakistan ka Matlab kya (What is the meaning of Pakistan), the chorus: La Ilaha Illalah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah."Nowhere in the Islamic world, Kalima is translated this way. Unless Pakistan's identity undergoes some radical transformation, it is unlikely that it will not view itself as the vanguard state of the Muslim Ummah. In Pakistan, the common understanding is that Pakistan has two types of borders: geographical and ideological. The ISI, which creates, nurtures and shields terrorist groups, considers itself as the ideological guardian of Pakistan, the second state to be established in the name of Islam, the first being Medina.
People of India must reconcile to the idea that the jihadist attacks in Kashmir will continue as long as Pakistan retains its identity in its current form. However, the Indian state needs to evolve a 100-year strategy against this known enemy. The strategy must be for India to behave like neighbours behave in our villages. When your neighbour hurts you, you shun eye contact and refuse to attend their wedding. When a neighbour encroaches onto your land, you push back. When your neighbour occupies your land, you break their nose. There is a slight distinction in the case of Pakistan. This enemy is not trained to sit idle, not even in its glories, not even in Ramzan. While India's strategy must be to empower Balochs, Sindhis, Kashmiris and Pashtuns, a successful strategy must be to break up Pakistan by striking at the heart of the enemy: the Punjabi elite, right in Punjab, across the shared international border.
Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is a contributing editor at Firstpost, and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif 

Source: firstpost

Sunday, 13 March 2016

American Progressives also typify others: Olmsted and Pollock

There are striking parallels between the seemingly progressive yet deeply prejudiced views of leftist American intellectuals of the 19th century and today.
by Kausik Gangopadhyay

Sene One: Mid Nineteenth Century 

Abolition of Slavery is a landmark event in American History. At the peak of American Civil war, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery as a strategic move to win the war through the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). Planters in the Southern states of America used to justify slavery on the ground of supposed racial inferiority of the Negros and need of Slavery as an institution for the benefit of the Negros. But what was the role of progressive American intellectuals of that era regarding abolition of slavery?

The voice against slavery was gaining ground in the preceding decades. This may give the reader an impression that progressive intellectuals sympathetic to abolition of slavery believed in equality of all races, as opposed to those conservatives who supported slavery as the right institution for upliftment of blacks. Such an understanding, however, would be deeply flawed.

Frederick Law Olmsted was a versatile personality of that era. He was a farmer as well as a landscape architect, journalist, social critic and public administrator. He was commissioned by the New York Times editor in 1852 to prepare a series of articles about Slavery in the south. His famous book, The Cotton Republic (1861), was based on these articles which presented an all-encompassing picture of slavery. Eminent personalities of that era, including Karl Marx, were influenced by Olmsted's views. What were Olmsted's views exactly? He was firmly against slavery — not primarily because of exploitation of the slaves but mostly on account of the supposed inefficiency of the slaves who, in his understanding, accomplished one third to one half as much work as did “the commonest stupidest domestic drudges at the North.”

It is not Olmsted alone but other contemporary progressive intellectuals of the United States of the time such as Cassius Marcellus Clay and Hinton Rowan Helper had similar opinions, which formed the core of anti-Slavery argument of those times.

Do their arguments make sense? Absolutely Not. Eminent economic historians of the twentieth century—Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman—analysed American slavery in their book Time on the Cross (1974) for which Fogel was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences. Their data-based work did dispel many popular false perceptions about slavery, in particular, the myth of Negro slovenliness. The Negros were definitely more hard working and more productive than free white labourers. 

Fogel and Engerman further explain,

 “The antislavery critics...conceived of blacks as members of an inferior race...Most expected that freed Negroes would have to be constrained in various ways if an “orderly” society was to be maintained.”

No wonder, “one of the biggest biological crisis of the nineteenth century” happened right after abolition of slavery when at least one quarter of the four million former slaves got sick or died between 1862 and 1870. (Jim Downs, Sick from freedom; 2012)

Scene two: Early Twenty-first century

 A large number of American academics probably do not recognise Indian civilisation anything worthy of cognisance. The present West—American society being certainly at the forefront—is the product of the European renaissance in the Middle ages, which awakened the scientific exploration and risk-taking ventures of the West. At the heart of this revolution, argues Peter L. Bernstein in his book Against the Gods (1998), lies the Hindu-Arabic number system developed by the Indian civilisation and passed over to the West by the Arabs.

 Sheldon Pollock is a scholar and a leading expert on Sanskrit. Pollock, a chaired professor in a reputed US university, is the editor of the Murty Classical Library of India, a project launched to translate many volumes of Indian classics into English. This shows identification of Pollock with the cause of Indian civilisation. Rajiv Malhotra's book, The Battle for Sanskrit (2016), summarises Pollock's views on Sanskrit and Indian culture. Pollock considers Sanskrit a Brahminical project and source of oppression in India. Sanskritic hegemony, Pollock feels, deprived India of all creativity. The Ramayana, according to him, is a socially irresponsible book.

 Sanskrit connotes to the language of the cultured people by etymology. But Sanskrit is not really an exception; in civilizational projects, languages often evolve from the high culture of society and their names are indicative of this feature. For example, Mandarin is the imperial lingua franca of China (the language of the bureaucrats); Hebrew and Turkish are two artificially revived languages of the twentieth century by the cultural elites of the respective nations. Nevertheless, two most prominent compositions of Sanskrit, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, are both composed by authors belonging to the subaltern classes (left liberal terminology wise)—Valmiki was a highway robber and Vyasa illegitimate Child of a boat-woman. These epics form the heart and the soul of Indian culture. What can be better proof of the fact that Sanskrit integrated the masses of India?

 Pollock is—very crucially—factually wrong too. He considers circa 260 BC as the birth of writing in India, overlooking the extensive evidence of writing found in Harappan sites (second or third millennium BC). Moreover, days when Sanskrit was India's lingua franca, India was one of the most advanced country of the world in terms of science, technology and economic prosperity. It is quite naive to insinuate that Sanskrit is responsible for Indian inferiority (the claim of Sheldon Pollock).

Progressive Typification

 The world-views of two leading progressive scholars of two very different generations show a similar pattern. Indeed, two examples are, by no means, sufficient to make a complete evaluation of the American progressives. However, they may bust some myths about American Progressives and their world-view which is often projected as neutral to race and religion.

 A. Olmsted was for abolition of slavery but strongly believed in inferiority of the Negroes. Pollock is associated with promotion of Indian civilisation but strongly believes in inferiority of Indian civilisation.

 B. Olmsted was factually wrong and prejudiced to consider the slaves as slovenly; but he pretended to be objective. Pollock's worldview has also factual inconsistencies as explained above. He is supposedly objective; so it does invoke the question: does he nurture deep prejudices in his psyche?

 C. Olmsted wanted Negroes to be constrained in an orderly society; he could not imagine a complete equality of the races. Pollock wants to send Sanskrit to museum as a dead language. He is utterly against revival of Sanskrit. Parity of Indian civilisation to its western counterpart is an unacceptable idea for him.

 D. Though slavery was no progressive institution, slaves did survive as second class inhabitants in American society with receipt of almost 90% of payment made to the free workers (Fogel and Engerman, 1974). There was no systemic genocide by slave-owners. However abolition of slavery caused Negroes to perish in unprecedentedly large numbers during 1860s. Likewise, American conservatives are no friends of Indian culture. Indian cultural studies—while being dominated by western academic discourse—can survive without any state patronage from them. But it is difficult to conclude the same with Pollock as gatekeeper for Indian culture. Such a “friend” of Indian culture would probably end up being catastrophic.

Source: pragyata