Monday, November 2, 2009

Sikhs Remember Victims of 1984 Massacre

Indira's Sikh assassins met swift justice, but the murderers of 3,870 innocent Sikhs still roam free a quarter of a century later. In addition to the Sikh pogrom, the year 1984 also saw a deadly gas leak in a factory owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal that killed over 2,000 people and left permanent injuries for many more for life.

In reaction to the Sikh killings in Delhi and other places, Indira's successor and son Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared at a massive rally in the capital that "once a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it shakes".

One of the worst massacres took place in two narrow alleys in India's capital New Delhi's poor Trilokpuri colony where some 350 Sikhs, including women and children, were casually butchered over 72 hours, according to media reports.

The charred and hacked remains of the hundreds of dead in Trilokpuri's Block 32 on the smoky and dank evening of 2 November 1984 were stark testimony to the unimpeded and seemingly endless massacre, according to the BBC.

Soon after news of Mrs Gandhi's killing by her Sikh bodyguards spread, Hindu mobs swung into action - like they did elsewhere in the city armed with voters' lists - in Trilokpuri against the low caste Sikhs inhabiting one-roomed tenements on either side of two narrow alleyways barely 150 yards long.

With local police connivance they blocked entry to the neighborhood with massive concrete water pipes and stationed guards armed with sticks atop them.

For the next three days marauding groups armed with cleavers, scythes, kitchen knives and scissors took breaks to eat and regroup in between executing their bloodthirsty mission.

The history repeated itself in Guj arat in 2002, only the pretext and the victims were different this time.

According to Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

People like Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, BJP leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi represent the ugly underbelly of Indian democracy and a threat to India's secularism. Modi is currently in power in Gujarat, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his participation in 2002 anti-Muslim riots resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims. Mr. Advani has been held responsible for the destruction of Babri mosque and subsequent anti-Muslim riots. Mr. Thackeray is considered responsible for major anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai and continues to terrorize any one who disagrees with him.

While the India's western supporters and government leaders paint a very rosy picture of India's prospects, it is important for Indians and others to understand that there are significant risks in India. For example, the extreme Hindu Nationalists are continuing to stir up trouble in many parts of India. According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence has affected 14 districts out of of 30 and 300 Villages in the Indian state of Orissa, 4,400 houses burnt, 50,000 homeless, 59 killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 priests/pastors/nuns injured, 18,000 men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 churches destroyed and 13 schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in refugee camps.

SM Mushrif, the author of "Who Killed Karkare?" and former police chief of Maharashtra state, has raised some very serious questions about the role of the Indian intelligence in the increasing violence committed by Hindutva outfits against India's minorities, and how India's Intelligence Bureau diverts attention from it by falsely accusing Indian Muslims and Pakistan's ISI, as was done in Malegaon and Samjutha Express blasts.

Mushrif alleges the involvement of both Police Chief Raghuvanshi and Col. Purohit with Abhinav Bharat in Maharashtra, whose hand was evident in a series of blasts across the country. It has old connections with men like Veer Damodar Savarkar (whose relative Himani Savarkar leads the Abhinav Bharat movement), Dr Munje, who led the Hindu Mahasabha, and other Hindutva luminaries. It is at the Bhonsala Military Academy run by these groups that Purohit trained police officers, including Raghuvanshi. Mushrif asks a pertinent question: Will Raghuvanshi pursue the investigation against Purohit, his guru? A plausible answer is, perhaps no. Already charges have been dropped by a special court under MCOCA against 11 accused, including Purohit, on the grounds of insufficient evidence produced in the court by the prosecution.

The violent Hindutva extremists represent a very serious threat to India's secular democracy, peace and stability. It is important for Prime Manmohan Singh's government to take seriously the warnings from patriotic Indians like S.M. Mushrif, Pankaj Mishra, Yoginder Sikand and others. Delhi needs to act by ordering a high-powered and comprehensive investigation into the allegations of the involvement of Intelligence Bureau and other Indian state officials in persecution of minorities in India.

Here's a Tehelka.com video clip of Babu Bajrangi account and confession of killings of Gujarat Muslims in 2002:





Related Links:

Gujarat in 2002

21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Radical Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

India's Guantanamos and Abu-Ghraibs

Gujarat Muslims Ignored by Politicians

Rise of Hindu Fascism in India

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Hindu Rashtra ideology was driving force for Malegaon conspirators

The Rise and Rise of Mangalore's Taliban

Who Killed Karkare?

Hindutva-Military-Intelligence Nexus

Malegaon Files

Samjhota Express Blast

Muslims Falsely Accused in Malegaon Blast

Hindu Nationalists Gang Up on Musharraf at Stanford

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Violence Against Indian Christians

Priest Survivor: Hindu Radicals are Terrorists

Gujarat Pogrom of 2002

25 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a piece by Beena Sarwar on Indian artist MF Husain's flight from India:

In 1998, Bajrang Dal activists attacked Husain's house and vandalised art works. The Hindutva lobby has also attacked and threatened art galleries in India as well as in London exhibiting his work resulting in several shows being closed down.

There have also been various incitement to murder him or cause bodily harm, ranging from chopping his arms off to gouging his eyes out. In Feb. 2006, the president of the Hindu Personal Law Board in Lucknow “put a Rs 51 crore (USD11.1 million) bounty on Husain’s head, matching a similar bounty issued by a fundamentalist Muslim politician for cartoonists who lampooned the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the Danish and world press,” reports Deeksha Nath, an art historian, critic and curator based, writing in the Art AsiaPacific magazine (Fall 2006).

However, Husain’s intentions are based in reverence for the Hindu culture. He talks about being inspired by Hindu mythology and seeing purity in nudity, a belief reaffirmed by his study of the Hinduism.

Husain “is a prime target precisely because he is a Muslim,” notes the prominent photographer and artist, Ram Rahman. “The Hindutva attack on him has nothing to do with his iconography or the so called ‘protection of Hinduism’. It has solely to do with mobilising the cadres of the communal political forces.”

It is no coincidence that the first case against Husain for offending Hindu religious sensibilities was registered in 1996, as the Hindu right reasserted itself -- decades after he began painting.

“The Hindu extremists are reacting to the Islamic movement, and trying to formulate their ideology on the Jamat-e-Islami, which they see as a strong masculine ideology that they want to emulate,” an Australian Ph.D student who conducted field research in the 1990s in Bombay and Lahore told to this writer during an interview in 1999 .

This ties into the perceived injustice “in taking Hindus for granted while appeasing Muslim sensibilities,” observed by the London-based writer Salil Tripathi. Commenting on the “growing assertiveness of Hindu nationalists since the 1990s”, he adds, “Because of the amount of attention Muslims have commanded when they have been offended by images they consider blasphemous - a concept alien to Hinduism - Hindus want equal treatment. They want the right to be offended” .

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report today about India's "two faces":

In India, certainly in urban India, it just feels like the mercury is rising. Compare that to parts of Europe, my previous posting, where many people have plenty of everything. They are not pre-occupied with the hope of moving up, but with the fear of losing what they already have.

India, of course, could get it all wrong. The have-nots could remain stuck in their rut, increasingly angry and marginalised.

Hundreds of millions of people still survive on very little in this country and as they watch the new buoyant India flourish around them, there is bound to be a reaction.

A peasant-based rebellion, taking inspiration from the revolutionary teachings of Chairman Mao, is fermenting dangerously across a vast swathe of Indian territory. Unchecked, it could well spread fast. "That," a senior security official once told me, "is what really keeps me awake at night."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8342664.stm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting commentary by Kapil Komireddi published in the Guardian earlier this year:

Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984).

For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.

The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.

The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognise and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ExpressIndia story of a Gujarati Muslim killed in Surat:

Mehboob Pathan (50) of Valak village on Surat’s outskirts wanted was a job in the city. Having a Muslim name, he felt, came in the way. So, to get himself a job in Surat’s diamond units, he passed himself off as Jayenti Bhatti, and managed to find work in two separate units in the Kapodara area.

Early this week, his “cover” was blown, after he was brutally killed over a monetary dispute. As the distraught family stepped forward to admit that Jayenti Bhatti was indeed Mehboob Pathan, they worried that having been cremated as a Hindu, the practising Muslim’s soul may not find peace.

In the ledgers of Surat’s diamond units, there are many leading a double life like Pathan. His son Mushtaq is registered as Mukesh and daughter Samina as Sharmila, and both are afraid of losing their jobs if the fact was known.

Diamond industry sources and workers say many Muslims assume Hindu names to find work in the city’s lucrative diamond business.

One of them, Allarakha Khan, admits to having passed himself off as a Hindu like many others from his village. “We would not get a job if we are known to be Muslims. We have been doing this for a long time, and we take great care not to reveal our real names or addresses at work,” he told The Indian Express.

Rohit Mehta, president of the Surat Diamond Association, however, denied knowledge of Muslims passing themselves off as Hindus for jobs. “We will inquire into this,” he said.

Pathan’s story came to be known after his body was found in a farm at Antroli last Monday, with the head smashed in. The police registered a case and kept the unclaimed body in the Palsana Primary Health Centre mortuary till Thursday. Then they arranged to give Pathan alias Bhatti a Hindu funeral, with all the rites.

His family, who had been looking for Pathan, had filed a missing complaint. Then, seeing news stories in local newspapers about an unclaimed body, Mehboob’s brother-in-law Iqbal Pathan decided to check. By that time, Pathan had been cremated, but the brother-in-law identified him from a photo of the body.

The family says Pathan was a pious Muslim and the change of name was just so that he and his children could find and keep a job. “We are too poor to do anything, but how could the police dispose of his body the Hindu way?” asks son Mushtaq. “A genital examination would have shown he was a Muslim.”

Sub-Inspector of Kadodara police V R Malhotra said they had kept the body in the mortuary hoping someone would turn up. “We disposed it of according to Hindu rites not knowing he was a Muslim. The family turned up too late and we are now helpless.”

Kapodara police inspector S J Tirmizi, who is probing the murder, confirmed that Pathan had passed himself off as Bhatti for work. Manoj Rokad, who is the manager of the Varachha unit in which Pathan’s daughter Samina works as a diamond polisher, has reportedly confessed to the murder.

According to the police, Rokad had become a family friend of the Pathans and knew their real identities. Two years ago, Pathan had reportedly loaned Rokad Rs 60,000 for an emergency, which he never returned. Pathan used to call Rokad repeatedly asking him to return the same, and the latter reportedly asked Pathan to meet him on December 20. They went to Antroli village, where Rokad allegedly killed Pathan with the help of two other diamond polishers, who have been identified as Chhanya Rathod and Sanjay.

While Rokad has been held, and has reportedly admitted that they beat Pathan to death, Rathod and Sanjay are on the run.

Riaz Haq said...

The BBC is reporting that a delegation of the European Union is due to visit a region which was hit by anti-Christian riots in the eastern Indian state of Orissa last year.

Members of a hardline Hindu organisation have protested against the visit saying it was a violation of the "sovereignty" of the country.

The violence in Kandhamal district left at least 40 people dead and more than 25,000 homeless.

The riots followed the killing of a Hindu religious leader and four others.

A local leader of the hardline Bajrang Dal Subas Chouhan has criticised the Orissa government for allowing the delegation to visit Kandhamal.

"It seems the state government wants the riots to return," he said.

Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the 11 member-delegation was going to Kandhamal to see the "development activities there".

Christian leaders have denied that the visit would lead to religious tensions.

"Those who are opposing the visit are the perpetrators of the communal violence. So their anxiety is understandable," Raphael Chennath said.

The delegation was originally scheduled to visit Kandhamal early last year, but the federal government refused permission because of the general elections in April.

Kandhamal district witnessed weeks of anti-Christian violence after a Hindu leader was shot dead.

The clashes erupted after hardline Hindu groups blamed Christians for the killing.

The government set up two fast-track courts to deal speedily with cases relating to the riots.

Anonymous said...

Reaping the Harvest of Hate
Ram Puniyani
Film Review

Film: From Hindu to Hindutva
Debaranjan Sarangi, Pedestrian Pictures,

Language: Oriya with English Subtitles
Duration- 44 Minutes

-
Kandhmal violence has been the most ghastly communal violence in the Adivasi areas in India. Close to two years after the violence the tragedy of the area continues, the victims of violence, the rehabilitation, the justice to victims, most of these are no where close to what they should be.

Debaranjan Sarangi, a social activist and writer has effectively caught the Kandhamal carnage in his short but comprehensive film with great amount of sensitivity and objectivity. He presents the whole event with the help of field interviews, the shots of burning of houses and churches and the pathetic condition of the refugee camps. The film begins with the event of murder of Swami Laxmandnand, Praveen Togadia of VHP takes out the procession of his body through sensitive areas of Kandhmal, the rumor is spread that Christians are behind the murder of Swami, One striking parallel which emerges from this account is that even in Gujarat Modi permitted the procession of the victims of Godhra train burning through Ahmedabad, accompanied by rumor that Muslims have burnt the train and this in turn incited the feelings of the people leading to carnage. VHP’s Praveen Togadia does the same. The methods of RSS combine have so much of a parallel.

.... The attacker’s were shouting the slogans of Jai Bajarang Bali.

The state, since Biju Janata Dal had BJP as an ally, soft peddled towards the criminals indulging in communal riots. This is the same story in most of the carnages, be it the anti Sikh pogrom, Mumbai violence or Gujarat carnage, state devices kid gloves to deal with the perpetrators of the crime. Also on the ‘expected’ pattern state gave no protection to victims.... The VHP supporters worsened the situation by asserting that .. Christians should leave or they will be killed unless they convert into Hinduism.
Krishna Majhi, leader of Kui samaj, Adivasis, points out that Adivasis are not Hindus and the ‘Home coming’ campaign, conversion of Adivasis into Hinduism, is a forcible one... This home coming was conducted by Laxmandnand, at big scale. The Christians were tonsured and given a Hanuman locket...
The violence is done by VHP for its political goals. Laxmananand indulged in lot of unchecked ‘hate speech’ against Christians. As a matter of fact his and RSS combines ‘Hate other’ speech against Christians laid the foundation of the violence.

Kandhmal was no flash in the pan. It was systematically built up from 1970 since the swami began his activities there... through which hate campaign was conducted. After the violence the major sectors of state were apathetic to the plight of Christians. Currently even their children are looked down in schools. The anti Christian atmosphere prevails till the day.

Film ends on a sad note, the reality of minorities in Orissa today is well depicted... It gives enough hints about the method of working of VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and RSS combine in the Adivasi areas. Bringing out these linkages with RSS combine’s methods in unleashing violence in other areas would have enriched the quality of the film. It is a must watch for all social activists and citizens at large.

Riaz Haq said...

Twenty-five years after the world's worst industrial disaster, people have finally been held legally responsible. However, the slow Indian justice has still not caught up with the perpetrators of the Sikh massacre of 1984.

Here's BBC reporting about it:

A court in the Indian city of Bhopal has sentenced eight people to two years each in jail over a gas plant leak that killed thousands of people in 1984.

The convictions are the first since the disaster at the Union Carbide plant - the world's worst industrial accident.

The eight Indians, all former plant employees, were convicted of "death by negligence". One had already died - the others are expected to appeal.

Campaigners said the court verdict was "too little and too late".

Forty tonnes of a toxin called methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory and settled over slums in Bhopal on 3 December 1984.

The Indian government says some 3,500 people died within days and more than 15,000 in the years since.

Campaigners put the death toll as high as 25,000 and say the horrific effects of the gas continue to this day.

The site of the former pesticide plant is now abandoned.

It was taken over by the state government of Madhya Pradesh in 1998, but environmentalists say poison is still found there.

The eight convicted on Monday were Keshub Mahindra, the chairman of the Indian arm of the Union Carbide (UCIL); VP Gokhale, managing director; Kishore Kamdar, vice-president; J Mukund, works manager; SP Chowdhury, production manager; KV Shetty, plant superintendent; SI Qureshi, production assistant. All of them are Indians.

The seven former employees, some of whom are now in their 70s, were also ordered to pay fines of 100,000 Indian rupees (£1,467; $2,125) apiece.

Although Warren Anderson, the American then-chairman of the US-based Union Carbide parent group, was named as an accused and later declared an "absconder" by the court, he was not mentioned in Monday's verdict.


Soutik Biswas of BBC says that "the verdict is being described as more symbolic than just by rights groups and NGOs who have been working with the maimed gas victims.

They say that two-year prison sentences for Indians found guilty over the tragedy which killed thousands is an indictment of the country's slow-moving criminal justice system and investigative agencies.

Campaigners would like to see the former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson, the prime accused in the case, brought to justice. A warrant for his arrest was issued by an Indian court in 2003 but never acted on."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on India's state-owned banks discriminating against Muslims:

State-owned banks in India have been accused of discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.

India's minorities watchdog has received a record number of complaints from Muslims who say they have been prevented from opening bank accounts.

India's Muslim community is among the poorest in the country.

Some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities.

The National Commission of Minorities says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.

Reports say the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.

Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder - even beneath than low-caste Hindus.

Their economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.

Already a number of reports have suggested that India's Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.

This latest finding will add more pressure on a government which is seen as doing very little for the country's largest minority group.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Dec 2006 report published in The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, that deals with birthrates and other demographic differences in India:

Narendra Modi should take note. The Sachar committee debunks the myth that Muslims have more children than other communities.

“Strictly speaking, there is no ‘Muslim fertility’ as such in the sense that Muslims in general cannot be identified as having a particular level of fertility,” says the panel’s report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

Muslims have a low fertility rate in states with low fertility rates. “Muslims in southern states have lower fertility than in northern and central states,” says the committee, tasked to find out Indian Muslims’ status in all spheres of life and activity.

A myth within the myth has been that Muslims have more children because they marry early. “Data, however, show that Muslims do not have a lower age at marriage than the average,” Sachar says.

The report asserts that over a third of Muslim couples do use some form of contraception. “Data in the National Family Health Survey show the use of contraception is widely prevalent among Muslims, though to a lesser degree than the average.”

The bogey of Muslims’ “higher” fertility — and the demographic “threat” it poses to Hindus — has held sway for decades. Modi, Gujarat’s Muslim-baiting BJP chief minister, had played on this fear a few years ago with his mock slogan “hum paanch, hamara pachis (the five of us and our 25 children)”.

Sachar also reveals that only 4 per cent of Muslim students go to madarsas; most of the rest go to government or government-aided schools.

He then goes on to make a surprising revelation. For all the disadvantages Indian Muslims suffer from, the mortality rate among infants and under-fives in the community is lower than that among Hindus (excluding the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes).

Christians and Sikhs have an even lower mortality rate.

“The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes suffer the highest infant and under-five mortality rate followed by the Hindus. Muslims have the second-lowest infant and under-five mortality rate among all socio-religious communities,” the report says. “This is somewhat surprising given the economically disadvantaged position of Muslims.”

One possible explanation could be the higher urbanisation of the community. Yet the finding seems to fly in the face of accepted wisdom.

Socio-economic variables that are supposed to reduce child mortality rates include the mother’s education as well as the household’s socio-economic status and access to safe drinking water, sanitation and electricity.

But Muslims in general have lower levels of income and education. “The only states where child mortality among Muslims has worsened are Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” Sachar says.

The advantage in infant and under-five mortality is not carried over to the later stages of childhood. “Muslims suffer from the highest rates of stunting and the second-highest rate of underweight children among all social groups.”

But Sachar admits that the difference is negligible. Hindu children, too, are at high risk of stunted growth and malnutrition, while the SC/STs fare worse than Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of how the BBC is reporting the Ayodhya verdict by Allahabad High Court today:

In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect.


Allahabad High Court is trying to create a false appearance of Solomon's wisdom by ordering what is being advertised as "split-the-baby" verdict.

In reality, though, the court has wrongly sided with the violent Hindutva outfits in practice by giving the main site where Babri masjid stood to Hindus.

Let's hope and pray that this latest verdict does not lead to more innocent blood being shed because of an unwise and unjust court ruling favoring the Hindu provocateurs and perpetrators of the crime of demolishing Babri mosque in 1992 and subsequent massacres of Muslim minority.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from a piece by Girish Shahane, Mumbai-based freelance journalist. He writes the blog Shoot First, Mumble Later:

...These sorts of errors bothered me far less than the constant highlighting of atrocities, often fictional ones, by Muslim rulers. The entry on Konark read, "The massive Sun Temple was constructed in mid-13th century, probably by Orissan king Narashimhadev I to celebrate his military victory over the Muslims. In use for maybe only three centuries, the first blow occurred in the late 16th century when marauding Mughals removed the copper over the cupola. This vandalism may have dislodged the loadstone leading to the partial collapse of the 40m-high sikhara." As a child, I'd heard the tale of a giant magnet holding the Sun Temple's girders in place. By the time I was in my late teens, I knew Indian temples were made of stone and used little metal. The idea of a lodestone atop the Sun Temple keeping the structure together, while making compasses on passing ships go haywire, was manifestly absurd. Not too absurd for Lonely Planet, though, which lays blame for this imaginary vandalism at the door of Mughals, whose only connection with Konark in the late 16th century was a laudatory passage about the structure composed by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari.

Temples, even grand ones can collapse from natural causes, as evidenced by the recent fall of the 500 year old gopuram of the Srikalahasti temple.

In India, however, any damage to old Hindu religious structures is reflexively attributed to 'the Muslims'. That phrase itself is objectionable, in my view. Lonely Planet never clubs the British and Portuguese together as 'the Christians', so why place rulers from varied ethnic backgrounds and historical eras into a hold all category such as 'the Muslims'?

The Sun Temple isn't the only instance of Lonely Planet inventing acts of Muslim vandalism. The entry for Himachal's Brajeshwari Temple states, "Famous for its wealth, the temple was looted by a string of invaders, from Mahmud of Ghazni to Jehangir". Mahmud did, indeed, loot the Brajeshwari temple. But Jehangir was neither an invader, having been born and bred in India, nor a plunderer of holy sites. He loved that region of the country, and did much to improve it.

Mughals keep unjustly getting the wrong end of the stick throughout the book. The background to Amritsar and its Golden Temple reads, "The original site for the city was granted by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but another Mughal, Ahmad Shah Durani, sacked Amritsar in 1761 and destroyed the temple." Durrani was, of course, not a Mughal at all. But hey, these guys are all Muslims, right? Mughal, Turk, Afghan, big difference. That attitude is probably why Allaudin Khilji is wrongly labelled a Pathan: "Chittor's first defeat occurred in 1303 when Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan king of Delhi, besieged the fort, apparently to capture the beautiful Padmini, wife of the rana's (king's) uncle, Bhim Singh." Actually, misidentifying a Turko-Afghan as a Pathan is a minor error. The big howler in the sentence is LP's propagation of the myth of Rani Padmini. Back in the early 14th century, Khilji was on a campaign in Rajputana, capturing one fort after another, and Chittor was on his list. He didn't need a special reason to besiege it. The great poet and mystic Amir Khusro, who chronicled Khilji's campaign, made no mention of any Padmini. The story was dreamt up much later to contrast the treachery and lasciviousness of the Muslim ruler against the bravery and chivalry of his Hindu Rajput antagonists. I feel like saying to the Rajputs, "Guys, Khilji won, you lost, get over it."

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-conversion laws are linked to higher persecution of minorities in India.

Seven Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh now have anti-conversion laws in "Secular India". The passage of these laws has inevitably been followed by extreme violence against mainly Christian groups claiming many innocent lives.

... two members of the National Commission for Minorities, Harcharan Singh Josh and Lama Chosphel Zotpa, acknowledged that Hindu extremists frequently invoke the anti-conversion law in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh as a means of inciting mobs against Christians or of having them arrested without evidence. They reported this finding after a visit to the state June 13-18.

Dubious Intentions

According to Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, "Freedom of Religion" laws are misnamed.

"Their intention is just the reverse", he said. "They deny the people the freedom of faith."

These laws encourage extremist groups such as the RSS and VHP to target Christians and their educational institutions, he said, adding that in Madhya Pradesh it has become “impossible† for Christian workers to even visit rural areas.

Christians complain that the anti-conversion laws define "force", "fraud" and "inducement" vaguely, which can paralyze Christian social and evangelistic service by exposing Christian workers to false charges.

For instance, Section 2(b) of the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act terms "divine displeasure" “ a key component of the gospel message“ as "force" . Section 2(d) labels an "inducement"  the offer of "any gift or benefit" thus criminalizing Christ's command to feed, clothe and give drink to the needy. Section 2(b) vaguely defines as fraud "misrepresentation or any other fraudulent contrivance."

Section 4(1) of the Act requires any person wishing to convert to another religion to give a prior notice of at least 30 days to district authorities; failure to do so can result in a fine of 1,000 rupees (US$23). Yet, "no notice shall be required if a person reverts back to his own religion" in a society that largely assumes that to be born in India is to be born Hindu.

Section 3 states that a person who is converted by any unfair means shall not be considered converted. According to Section 5, an offense under Section 3 – which includes conversion “by the use of force or by inducement or by any other fraudulent means” – is punishable with imprisonment up to two years and/or a fine up to 25,000 rupees (US$570).

In case of conversion of a minor, woman, Dalit or tribal (aboriginal) person, the imprisonment can extend to three years and the fine up to 50,000 rupees (US$1,140).

Election Issue

Before elections, the BJP has raised the issue of Christian growth and consequent need to ban “forced” conversions in order to divide voters along religious lines.

On February 10, The Indian Express daily quoted Himachal Pradesh state BJP chief Jairam Thakur as saying that, had the Congress Party government not enacted the anti-conversion law, the issue could have become his party's "major poll plank" in assembly elections in 2008.

http://www.worthynews.com/1277-india-anti-conversion-laws-linked-to-higher-persecution

Riaz Haq said...

Thousands of Indian illegal immigrants are slipping into Texas from Mexico, according to LA Times:

Reporting from Harlingen, Texas — Thousands of immigrants from India have crossed into the United States illegally at the southern tip of Texas in the last year, part of a mysterious and rapidly growing human-smuggling pipeline that is backing up court dockets, filling detention centers and triggering investigations.

The immigrants, mostly young men from poor villages, say they are fleeing religious and political persecution. More than 1,600 Indians have been caught since the influx began here early last year, while an undetermined number, perhaps thousands, are believed to have sneaked through undetected, according to U.S. border authorities.

Hundreds have been released on their own recognizance or after posting bond. They catch buses or go to local Indian-run motels before flying north for the final leg of their months-long journeys.

"It was long … dangerous, very dangerous," said one young man wearing a turban outside the bus station in the Rio Grande Valley town of Harlingen.

The Indian migration in some ways mirrors the journeys of previous waves of immigrants from far-flung places, such as China and Brazil, who have illegally crossed the U.S. border here. But the suddenness and still-undetermined cause of the Indian migration baffles many border authorities and judges.

The trend has caught the attention of anti-terrorism officials because of the pipeline's efficiency in delivering to America's doorstep large numbers of people from a troubled region. Authorities interview the immigrants, most of whom arrive with no documents, to ensure that people from neighboring Pakistan or Middle Eastern countries are not slipping through.

There is no evidence that terrorists are using the smuggling pipeline, FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials said.

The influx shows signs of accelerating: About 650 Indians were arrested in southern Texas in the last three months of 2010 alone. Indians are now the largest group of immigrants other than Latin Americans being caught at the Southwest border.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on the deprivation of Muslims and Dalits in Gujarat:

NEW DELHI: Muslims in Gujarat have a long way to go. A new study shows there's deep-rooted poverty and income inequality among the state's lower castes and Muslims. The latter, in particular, fare poorly on parameters of poverty, hunger, education and vulnerability on security issues — nowhere benefiting from the feelgood growth story of CM Narendra Modi's state.

In the study titled "Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials", economist Abusaleh Shariff used the NSSO, NCAER's human development data and the Sachar Committee report, among others, to tabulate the status of Gujarat's Muslims. "Estimation of poverty by social group is rare, but the NCAER survey data, and NSSO, allow for such estimates," says Shariff, also chief economist at National Council of Applied Economic research (NCAER).

Disturbingly, and surprisingly, says Shariff, Gujarat's levels of hunger are high alongside Orissa and Bihar, with only Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh having higher hunger levels. Urban poverty among the state's Muslims is eight times more than high-caste Hindus, 50% more than OBCs.

Muslims are educationally deprived: despite 75% enrolment of Muslim children in primary school, a mere 26% reach matriculation. This is against 79% enrolment of 'others except SCs/ STs', 41% of who make it to matriculate levels.
---------

Shariff points out that while FDIs and investments are channeled into the organized sector, self-employment — where most Muslims make their living — is "not a growing sector". Says Shariff, "Income growth in self-employment has only marginally increased compared to other sectors in Gujarat."

The study says that Gujarat's is hunting ground "for NRI and corporate politics", and that "the FDI hype" is designed to facilitate tax subsidies, cheap licensing and under-priced land.

Concluding that Muslims in Gujarat face high levels of discrimination and deprivation, Shariff adds, "Even on roll-out of NREGA, Gujarat is at the bottom of the pile."

The study is a first in series of studies of various states on similar lines, says Manzoor Alam of the Institute of Objective Studies that organised its presentation. The purpose is to cut through rhetoric and evidence the state of Muslims across states. "We get lost in the talk on 'appeasement'. It's important to see the actual status of Muslims. So, Muslims know where they stand, and it will help governments formulate policy," says Alam.

State of Gujarat Muslims
* 60% live in urban areas; their poverty is eight times more than high-caste Hindus, 50% more than OBCs
* 12% have bank accounts. But their share of total loan amounts is low at 2.6
* Gujarat among worst performers in NREGA-implementation. Only Rs 540 million distributed at a wage rate of Rs 50. Only 4.9 rural households participated.

(Source: Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials by Abusaleh Shariff)

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post report on the conviction of 31 Muslims in Godhra train fire case:

NEW DELHI - An Indian court in the western state of Gujarat has found 31 Muslims guilty of setting fire to a train coach nine years ago, killing 59 Hindu passengers in an incident that sparked some of the worst religious violence in India in recent years.

The verdict was delivered inside the jail by Judge P.R. Patel who charged the men with murder and criminal conspiracy in the plot to kill the Hindu activists. The judge acquitted 63 others accused in the case.

Sentences are scheduled to be announced Friday.

The defendants bought gas, cut into the vestibule to pour it inside and torched the train, said J.M. Panchal, the public prosecutor in the case.

The Sabarmati Express train was carrying Hindu activists on their way to build a temple at a disputed site. Police had accused the Muslim mob of executing a well conceived plan in the town of Godhra on Feb. 27, 2002.

However, human rights activists and lawyers defending the accused have argued that it was an accident and not an act of sabotage.

The court on Tuesday upheld the conspiracy argument, but acquitted 70-year-old Maulana Hussain Umarji, who was accused as a key conspirator.

"We are not satisfied with this judgement. There are so many contradictions. We will appeal in higher courts," said I.M. Munshi, the defense lawyer

The burning of the train triggered reprisal riots in the following days that left more than 1,000 Muslims dead in Gujarat. The verdict on Tuesday is the first among nine court cases examining those accused in the violence.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC story on damning testimony against Narendra Modi by an Indian intelligence official:

A senior police officer's sworn statement to India's Supreme Court alleges that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence in 2002.

Sanjiv Bhatt says he attended a meeting at which Mr Modi is alleged to have said that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.

Mr Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.
'Vent their anger'

The riots began after 60 Hindu pilgrims died when a train carrying them was set on fire.

Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau during the 2002 riots.

In a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, he said that his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials.

He also alleges that, in a meeting in the night before the riots, Mr Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following an attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

The Gujarat government has responded to the allegations by saying they have already testified before a special panel investigating the riots and will wait for the court's verdict.

Riaz Haq said...

Modi the mass murderer, the friend of those who hounded out MF Husain, has detroyed the official records from 2002 Gijarat massacre of Muslims, reports the BBC:

Official records relating to the 2002 riots in India's Gujarat state were destroyed in line with regulations, the government tells a panel probing the riots.

Documents with records of telephone calls and the movements of officials during the riots were destroyed in 2007, five years after their origin

Officials say this is standard practice and in line with civil service rules.
----

The Supreme Court set up a panel to investigate the riots in 2008, after allegations that the Gujarat government was doing little to bring those responsible to justice.

Government lawyer SB Vakil told the Nanavati panel probing the riots that some records relating to the riots had been destroyed according to the rules.

"As per general government rules, the telephone call records, vehicle logbook and the officers' movement diary are destroyed after a certain period," Mr Vakil was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

In April a senior police officer alleged in a sworn statement to India's Supreme Court that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13970748

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Noam Chomsky titled "Somebody Else's Atrocity":

In his penetrating study “Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights,” international affairs scholar James Peck observes, “In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us”—whoever “us” is.

Almost any moment in history yields innumerable illustrations. Let’s keep to the past few weeks.

On May 10, the Summer Olympics were inaugurated at the Greek birthplace of the ancient games. A few days before, virtually unnoticed, the government of Vietnam addressed a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the “profound concerns of the Government and people of Viet Nam about the decision of IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic Movement.”

Dow provided the chemicals that Washington used from 1961 onward to destroy crops and forests in South Vietnam, drenching the country with Agent Orange.

These poisons contain dioxin, one of the most lethal carcinogens known, affecting millions of Vietnamese and many U.S. soldiers. To this day in Vietnam, aborted fetuses and deformed infants are very likely the effects of these crimes—though, in light of Washington’s refusal to investigate, we have only the studies of Vietnamese scientists and independent analysts.

Joining the Vietnamese appeal against Dow are the government of India, the Indian Olympic Association, and the survivors of the horrendous 1984 Bhopal gas leak, one of history’s worst industrial disasters, which killed thousands and injured more than half a million.

Union Carbide, the corporation responsible for the disaster, was taken over by Dow, for whom the matter is of no slight concern. In February, Wikileaks revealed that Dow hired the U.S. private investigative agency Stratfor to monitor activists seeking compensation for the victims and prosecution of those responsible.

Another major crime with very serious persisting effects is the Marine assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004.

Women and children were permitted to escape if they could. After several weeks of bombing, the attack opened with a carefully planned war crime: Invasion of the Fallujah General Hospital, where patients and staff were ordered to the floor, their hands tied. Soon the bonds were loosened; the compound was secure.

The official justification was that the hospital was reporting civilian casualties, and therefore was considered a propaganda weapon.

Much of the city was left in “smoking ruins,” the press reported while the Marines sought out insurgents in their “warrens.” The invaders barred entry to the Red Crescent relief organization. Absent an official inquiry, the scale of the crimes is unknown.

If the Fallujah events are reminiscent of the events that took place in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, now again in the news with the genocide trial of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, there’s a good reason. An honest comparison would be instructive, but there’s no fear of that: One is an atrocity, the other not, by definition.

As in Vietnam, independent investigators are reporting long-term effects of the Fallujah assault.

Medical researchers have found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia, even higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Uranium levels in hair and soil samples are far beyond comparable cases.

One of the rare investigators from the invading countries is Dr. Kypros Nicolaides, director of the fetal-medicine research center at London’s King’s College Hospital. “I’m sure the Americans used weapons that caused these deformities,” Nicolaides says.

The lingering effects of a vastly greater nonatrocity were reported last month by U.S. law professor James Anaya, the U.N. rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.....


http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13328/somebody_elses_atrocities

Hope Wins said...

Dr. Haq,

There is something that I don't seem to follow here. Perhaps you can help me understand it.

1) If Hindu-India was horrifically oppressing Sikhs in 1984, why were their PM Indira's personal bodyguards Sikh?
2) After the killing of Indira by the same trusted Sikh bodyguards, some Sikhs in New Delhi began distributing sweets and saying "hum nay tumharay PM ko mar diya"; this led to angry mobs of Congress goons going on a rampage against Sikhs.
3) After more than a quarter of a century, Sikhs still remember that massacre in which 3000 innocent sikhs were killed.

This is tragic, but not an uncommon sequence of events amidst all the communal riots in world history.

But how do you explain the strange 1953 Anti-Ahmadiya massacres in Lahore?

Did some Ahmadis kill the PM of Pakistan in 1953? Did some Ahmadis betray any position of great trust and try to destablize Pakistan by carrying out assasinations? Were the Ahmadis asking for a separate Ahmadi State? Did some Ahmadis gloat over the killing of any Pakistani and distribute sweets in Lahore? Did the Ahmadis resort of any kind of violence whatsoever? Was there any deliberate ACT of provocation of any kind from the Ahmadis?

No. That does not seem to be the case. As far as can be ascertained, the Ahmadis were just going about their lives peacefully and were just as patriotic as any other Pakistani community. Infact, the Ahmadis specifically preach the forgoing of vengence and exalt non-violence as a pillar of their faith.

So then what was the background of the events leading up the 1953 Anti-Ahmadiya Massacres?

Do the few Ahmadis remaining in Pakistan still remember it? What about the Ahmadis who fled Pakistan to escape the anti-ahmadi laws and were given refuge in England? Do they still remember the 1953 massacre? Do they still remember the 1974 (Bhutto) & 1984 (Zia) anti-Ahmadi laws?

Would you please do some in-depth research and blog about this?

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

HopeWins: "If Hindu-India was horrifically oppressing Sikhs in 1984, why were their PM Indira's personal bodyguards Sikh?"

Let's be honest here!

Are you denying the oppression of Sikhs during 1970s followed by Indian military attack on Sikhs' holiest shrine of Golden Temple in Amritsar? Isn't that what angered Indira's Sikh guards to seek revenge?

I absolutely condemn the attacks on Ahmadiya minority in Pakistan. Regardless of whether anyone thinks they are Muslim or otherwise, they are Pakistanis and their lives and property must be protected.

But let me ask you this?

Have you seen or heard of Pak military or security forces attacking any minority religious shrines in Pakistan?

Riaz Haq said...

Yet another mass shooting in America--this time at Sikh temple where a white supremacist gunman killed Sikhs apparently mistaking them for Muslims.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sikh-temple-shooter-was-military-veteran-who-lived-nearby/2012/08/06/648d8134-dfbd-11e1-a421-8bf0f0e5aa11_story.html

The subtext to this and similar anti-Sikh violence appears to be the hysterical Islamophobic rhetoric that conflates all Muslims with terrorists and it amounts to outright fearmongering. It must stop to free us all from these kinds of incidents in America. Rather than distancing themselves from fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim, the Sikhs and other minorities as well as the white Christian majority must take a stand against such violence. I applaud Ethan for this timely and well-written piece in this regard.

http://www.ethancasey.com/2012/08/the-wisconsin-sikh-killings-and-an-america-worth-fighting-for/comment-page-1/

In addition to the hateful rhetoric of some American Islamphbes and xenophobes, the consequences of hateful Hindutva rhetoric not just on Muslims but others as well...the kind of consequences suffered by Norwegians about a year ago.

It appears that the Norwegian white supremacist terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto against the “Islamization of Western Europe” has been heavily influenced by the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric which is typical of the Nazi-loving Hindu Nationalists like late Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), and his present-day Sangh Parivar followers and sympathizers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who currently rule several Indian states.

This Hindutva rhetoric which infected Breivik has been spreading like a virus on the Internet, particularly on many of the well-known Islamophobic hate sites that have sprouted up in Europe and America in recent years. In fact, much of the Breivik manifesto is cut-and-pastes of anti-Muslim blog posts and columns that validated his worldview.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/07/norway-nazi-breiviks-hindutva-rhetoric.html

HopeWins Junior said...

Where is this Baboo Bajrangee fellow right now?

Have you stopped "googling" the news? What's going on out there?

Is he holding openly pro-violence rallies like the top-brass of the LeT which was banned by GOP in Jan 2012?

----

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Where is this Baboo Bajrangee fellow right now?"

Baboo Bajrangee is a third-tier leader. The real king-pins like Modi are still ruling Gujarat.

Pavan said...

Does it really matter which party was in power? The minorities suffer. It is Hindu goons whether belonging to the BJP or the Congress in case of the Sikh riots who do the damage. The RSS indirectly encourages all Hindus including those in the police. So what if the SP was in power when the Muzaffarnagar riots took place. They were incited by politicians from the BJP. Gujarat is different altogether since the BJP government looked the other way. The riots lasted for three whole months. Muzaffarnagar was brought under control in three days.

Riaz Haq said...

Ghettoization, discrimination against and segregation of #Muslims in @narendramodi's #gujarati #India http://nyti.ms/1eH0qFQ #IndiaElections

Even as candidate for prime minister, Mr. Modi has not given up his sectarian ways. Nor has his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and B.J.P. supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.

Continue reading the main story
Amit Shah, a former Gujarat minister and Mr. Modi’s closest aide, is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Mr. Modi. (Mr. Shah calls the charges a political conspiracy.) He has made speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.

The problem isn’t just about rhetoric. Judging by the evidence in Gujarat, where Mr. Modi has been chief minister since 2001, a B.J.P. victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, has become a wealthy metropolis of about six million people and three million private vehicles. Office complexes, high-rise apartments, busy markets and shopping malls have replaced the poor villages that once dotted the land. The city has a mass transit system called People’s Path, with corridors reserved for buses.

But Ahmedabad ceases to swagger in Juhapura, a southwestern neighborhood and the city’s largest Muslim ghetto, with about 400,000 people. I rode around there last week on the back of a friend’s scooter. On the dusty main street was a smattering of white and beige apartment blocks and shopping centers. A multistory building announced itself in neon signs as a community hall; a restaurant boasted of having air-conditioning. The deeper we went into the neighborhood, the narrower the streets, the shabbier the buildings, the thicker the crowds.

The edge of the ghetto came abruptly. Just behind us was a row of tiny, single-story houses with peeling paint. Up ahead, in an empty space the size of a soccer field, children chased one another, jumping over heaps of broken bricks. “This is The Border,” my friend said. Beyond the field was a massive concrete wall topped with barbed wire and oval surveillance cameras. On the other side, we could see a neat row of beige apartment blocks with air conditioners securely attached to the windows — housing for middle-class Hindu families.