Tuesday, November 12, 2019

South Asian Contrast: Ayodhya and Kartarpur

November 9, 2019 will go down in South Asian history as a day of sharp contrasts: While Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the construction of a Hindu temple on the site where Babri Masjid stood for centuries. Can India and its western apologists still claim to have shared values?

Shared Values:

At a congressional hearing on the Capitol Hill in Washington in October, 2019, American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked Ms. Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the following pertinent question:

"Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days. In Assam, almost 2 million people are being asked to prove their citizenship. This is how the Rohingya genocide started. At what point do we question whether PM Modi shares our values?"

The question of shared values has been forcefully answered in the negative by the Indian Supreme Court in its Ayodhya verdict. This judgement by India's apex court has rewarded the criminal acts of Hindu Nationalists by ordering the construction of Ram Temple on the land where centuries-old Mughal-era Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992.

Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiescence have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that  "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long". And Ed Luce, also from Financial Times, has written as follows: "During my session (at Bangalore Literary Festival) I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra Modi".

The only shared values between Washington and New Delhi are those of President Trump and Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders share hatred of minorities, particularly Muslims and  immigrants.

Kartarpur Corridor:

Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and signed an agreement with India to open a visa-free corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrim to visit the shrine on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birthday.

Prime Minister Modi also wants to take credit for the corridor to attempt to show that he is not against minorities. But the fact is that Prime Minister Imran Khan left Modi little choice but to go along by making Kartarpur Sahib reality in record time.

Hindu Temples in Pakistan:

Pakistan Supreme Court recently took suo moto action to protect ancient Katas Raj temple in Chakwal district. The temple has a water pond that has been drying up due to falling water table in the region. The Supreme Court has ordered local officials to come up with a plan to restore the water pond to restrict ground water withdrawal by industries and farms to maintain the pond considered holy by Hindus.

Pakistan has also opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in Sialkot for puja for the first time since partition in response to demand by the local Hindu community, according to media reports. In addition, Pakistan is restoring and reopening 400 Hindu temples across the country.

Indian Muslims:

While the actions of Prime Minister Modi's government have caused a great deal of concern among Muslims for their future in India, Indian Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict has shown that the institutions of Indian democracy are surrendering to the the growing power of Hindu Nationalists. Indian Muslim journalist Rana Ayub has summed up their fears in her Washington Post column as follows:

"Muslims in India fear that this would indeed be the beginning of reimagining India with Muslims as second-class citizens as envisaged by right-wing supremacists. A resounding message has been sent to the more than 200 million Muslims in the country that they must bear every humiliation and injustice with the silence expected of an inferior citizenry. I and millions of my co-religionists have been made to feel like an orphan yet again in the land we have loved, cherished and called our own. A land whose liberation from the British was fought by revolutionaries and freedom fighters that included our own forefathers. I wonder if that cherished freedom holds any meaning in the new India that seeks to erase my legacy and my existence".

Jinnah was right:

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah saw the threat posed to Muslim interests by Hindu majoritarianism in India as far back as 1938.  Speaking to the Muslim League in the Central Legislative Assembly, he set out his stance of permanent majorities and minorities as follows:

 “From the first contact it is not a democratic majority in the seven Congress provinces [that came to power after the 1937 election]. It is not a democratic majority that has formed the Government and is carrying on; it is the permanent Hindu majority which cannot be altered by any change whatsoever and therefore it is the travesty of the system which may be worthwhile in England. But when it is planted here, you see, that it is a failure. What is the result – the permanent Hindu majority and the ministry that is a Hindu ministry.”


While Pakistan is trying to make amends by promoting religious freedoms for minorities, Prime Minister Modi's India is turning into a Hindu Rashtra by making Muslims second-class citizens. Yet, India's western apologists are still promoting the idea of strategic partnership based on shared values. Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiesce have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long".

Here are video clips of US Congress's Hearing on Kashmir held on Oct 22, 2019:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Rape as a Political Weapon Used By Hindutva

Hindu Nationalism Inspired By Nazism, Fascism

Rise of Islamophobia After Sept 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

700,000 Indian Soldiers Versus 7 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Kashmir Blunder and India-Pakistan Nuclear Conflict

Is India a Paper Elephant? 

Howdy Modi Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charges of Hypocrisy

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

An investigation by EU DisinfoLab, an NGO tracking sophisticated disinformation campaigns, has listed some 265 #FakeNews outlets across 65 countries promoting #India’s geopolitical interests through republication of propaganda pieces and op-eds. #Hindutva https://qz.com/india/1747796/fake-media-outlets-boosted-indian-kashmir-stand-in-eu-says-ngo/

EU DisinfoLab has uncovered links between zombie companies, dormant media outlets, and legally non-existent organisations, lobbying the EU and also the UN by constantly targeting Pakistan.

Questionable news portals mentioned in the investigation include Times of Los Angeles, Times of Portugal, New Delhi Times, New York Journal American, and Times of North Korea.

The entire campaign ultimately dovetails with India’s Aug. 5 move to wrest tighter control of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir, and garner support for the country at international fora. While Pakistan has accused India of altering the international border, India maintains that Jammu & Kashmir is its internal matter.

EU DisinfoLab’s investigation demonstrates how this network of think tanks, NGOs, and media outlets has already translated into a set of EU parliamentarians visiting the Kashmir valley on Oct. 30. The visit was perceived by some as a sign of validation for the government’s move. It came amidst international attention on curbs on free speech and allegations of human rights violations in the Kashmir valley.

A few weeks after this, on Oct. 30, a group of 27 EU parliamentarians, mostly from right-wing political parties, visited the restive Kashmir Valley. This was perceived as a show of support for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s big agenda for the newly created union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, carved out of the former state.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Homophobic, misogynist and a bigot’ — meet #Modi's #Brazilian friend Jair Bolsonaro, #India’s Republic Day chief guest. #Islamophobia #Racism #Hate #Misogeny #Hindutva #BJP https://theprint.in/world/homophobic-misogynist-and-a-bigot-meet-jair-bolsonaro-indias-republic-day-chief-guest/321549/ via @ThePrintIndia

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accepted India’s invitation earlier this week to be a chief guest at the upcoming 71st Republic Day, the Narendra Modi government was faced with some acerbic criticism.

While some argued that New Delhi was inviting a “far-Right bigot” for the celebrations, others said the government was repeating a its “mistake” of calling a group of largely Right-wing European parliamentarians to visit Jammu and Kashmir recently.

Critics of the central government’s decision also have a robust set of evidence to back their claims.

In 1999, Bolsonaro had called for the assassination of former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Again, in 2003, he had told a fellow female legislator that he won’t rape her because she “doesn’t deserve it”.

His offensive comments have been steadfast. In 2011, Bolsonaro said he would rather have his son die in an accident than come out as a homosexual. And as recently as 2017, the president had remarked that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.

Such statements have also created an impression that Bolsonaro is part of the global nationalist-populist wave. But to look at him from such as lens is only a reductive exercise.

“The Bolsonaros (Jair and his sons) are above all a Brazilian phenomenon, a product of not only the country’s severe economic, institutional and criminal crises since 2014, but also of its successes in the decade prior,” wrote Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian-#American are ecstatic about #India’s court decision on #BabriMasjid. #Hindu-American community supporting PM #Modi and his ruling #BJP have hailed the Supreme Court for delivering “a just and fair judgment” #AyodhyaVerdict https://www.indiaabroad.com/indian-americans/indian-american-hindutva-believers-are-ecstatic-about-india-s-court/article_97a33e9a-05a0-11ea-89e9-13ed28a46a92.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share via @indiaabroad

The Nov. 9 verdict of the Supreme Court that granted Hindus permission to build a Ram temple at the centuries-old Ayodhya holy site, ending one of the country’s most politically-charged land disputes, has evoked a mixed reaction from Indian-Americans.

The Hindu-American community and those supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have hailed the Supreme Court for delivering “a just and fair judgment,” and providing a “closure” and “victory” to both the Hindu and the Muslim communities. On the other hand, are the minorities, the liberals and the progressives, who call the verdict “flawed” and a “failure for democracy.”

According to the unanimous court judgment by a five judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Hindus will get the disputed land of 2.77-acre complex, while Muslims will be allotted an alternative piece of 5 acres of land for the construction of a mosque. It was also ruled that the Babri mosque was not built on vacant land and the scientifically conducted survey in 2003 by the Archeological Survey of India confirmed in their findings the existence of a temple-like structure underneath.

Hindu-American activist Satya Dosapati, who aligns himself with VHP and RSS, told India Abroad that for the first time in over 1,100 years, “somebody stood for the rights of the Hindus,” referring to the Nov. 9 Ayodhya verdict.

Dosapti of Malboro, New Jersey, has been active in the community for several decades. In 2016, he organized an ‘All American Rally for Trump’ in Philadelphia, with Bruce Carter, founder of Black Men for Bernie and Hindu activist Arvind Kumar from Texas.

Dosapti, who pursued a career in telecom here, was also engaged in animal rights movements in the U.S. for health, environment and compassion, his biodata on PG Gurus says.

He said it was the first judicial acknowledgment of the Hindu right to worship their deities. “Imagine someone going and building their temple in Mecca or the Vatican,” Dosapati questioned. “How can you say that the temple can be divided,” he wondered. “The Supreme Court’s decision has restored the dignity and the rights of the Hindus and righted the wrong that was committed for so many years,” he said.

Similarly, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, also known as the World Hindu Council of America, in a statement said that for Hindus around the world, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is a symbol of their centuries old struggle against colonialism and the brutality and tragedy that came with it. “It is a cause that was served by the sacrifice of thousands of Hindus, many of them who gave up their life as they faced bullets by doing Karseva in 1990,” the statement said. It also acknowledged that the struggle for the Ram Janmabhoomi “memorializes the women and children of Sabarmati Express who were burnt alive in the tragic Godhra train massacre of 2002.”

“Ayodhya is the foremost of the seven sacred cities of Bharat as lauded in ancient texts,” David Frawley, an American Vedic teacher and founder of American Institute of Vedic Studies, told the Sunday Guardian. “Now its most iconic ruler Shri Ram has been given back his dignity,” said Frawley, a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the fourth highest civilian award instituted by the Government of India. “A new India that is Bharat has arisen for another millennium, its wealth of spiritual knowledge spreading worldwide,” he told the paper.

Riaz Haq said...

Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins


“Modi was a fascist in every sense” - Ashis Nandy - a trained psychologist, wanting to study the mentality of Hindu nationalists, interviewed Modi when he was young.

In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

When Modi joined, the Party had only two seats in parliament. It needed an issue to attract sympathizers, and it found one in an obscure religious dispute. In the northern city of Ayodhya was a mosque, called Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.


According to FactChecker, an organization that tracks communal violence by surveying media reports, there have been almost three hundred hate crimes motivated by religion in the past decade—almost all of them since Modi became Prime Minister. Hindu mobs have killed dozens of Muslim men. The murders, which are often instigated by Bajrang Dal members, have become known as “lynchings,” evoking the terror that swept the American South after Reconstruction. The lynchings take place against a backdrop of hysteria created by the R.S.S. and its allies—a paranoid narrative of a vast majority, nearly a billion strong, being victimized by a much smaller minority.

When Muslims are lynched, Modi typically says nothing, and, since he rarely holds press conferences, he is almost never asked about them. But his supporters often salute the killers. In June, 2017, a Muslim man named Alimuddin Ansari, who was accused of cow trafficking, was beaten to death in the village of Ramgarh. Eleven men, including a local leader of the B.J.P., were convicted of murder, but last July they were freed, pending appeal. On their release, eight of them were met by Jayant Sinha, the B.J.P. Minister for Civil Aviation. Sinha, a Harvard graduate and a former consultant for McKinsey & Company, draped the men in marigold garlands and presented them with sweets. “All I am doing is honoring the due process of law,” he said at the time.

Riaz Haq said...

The below via Basharat Ali and so very true! A few years ago Indians came out of the streets by the hundreds of thousands as part of "India against Corruption." Where are those teaming masses now???? "India against Fascism" anybody? Not worthwhile to get off your couches?
""Article 35A and 370 are read down from the Constitution. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian democracy. Yet the decision is received with mass acceptance and people are asked to move on.

The land in Ayodhya is given to Hindus for the construction of a mandir where a mosque stood for centuries. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian secularism. Muslims are asked to bury the past and move on.

Accused of rape, four people are killed in an encounter in Hyderabad. Indian liberals: this poses a threat to the independence of investigating agencies. Yet, the police are garlanded and celebrities come out in their support.

It is time that Indians who still think they can go back to the Nehruvian era and flog the dead horse called "the Idea of India" accept the "New India" as a reality and not an aberration. The fact that people accept what is happening around them and move on is the reason why Modi is ruling this country. The transformation of India into a Hindu Rashtra has happened long back. But the Indian liberals would still cry: no, we won't let our country become another Pakistan.""

Riaz Haq said...

The #Muslim man who saved a #Hindu temple from a mob in #Pakistan. After India's #BabriMasjid was destroyed, a mob in #Lahore sought to demolish a temple. Until a local Muslim man intervened. @AJEnglish https://aje.io/u952v

Lahore, Pakistan - The loud banging on the door was accompanied by chants.

"Death to India," shouted the mob that had converged on the government-run school in the small town of Niaz Baig.

It was December 7, 1992, a crisp winter morning.

The day before, a mosque had been demolished in neighbouring India. The destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque by Hindu nationalists had triggered riots that left 2,000 people - most of them Indian Muslims - dead.

But the fallout from that day would not remain within India's borders.

In protest against the destruction of the mosque, the government of Pakistan had declared December 7 a national holiday.

So, with the school's pupils off for the day, only the principal, some teachers and a few community members were present when the mob came knocking.

A school among the sprawl
It is a small detour from Lahore's well-kept, tree-lined Canal Road to the chaotic old town of Niaz Baig. But the contrast is stark.

The midday dust rises, first from the tarmac and then, as we venture deeper into the town, from the rubbish-lined dirt tracks.

We search for the school among the ill-planned sprawl of crumbling houses and, soon enough, find ourselves sitting inside it with its affable principal, Master Ashfaq, and Naseeb Khan, a former teacher who was there on that morning 27 years ago.

1992 was Khan's first year teaching at the school. It is one the well-spoken teacher will not forget.

A tall, domed structure with a faded Pakistani flag on top and faded floral frescoes on the ceiling, the school stands out among the poorly-constructed homes that surround it.

That is because, before its current incarnation as a school, it was the Bhadra Kali Hindu Mandir, a 19th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali.

And that is why the angry mob descended upon it that December morning.

From temple to mosque
Part of a vast complex that included a traditional well, a holy pool and orchards, all surrounded by a thick boundary wall, Bhadra Kali Hindu Mandir was once one of the most prominent Hindu temples in Lahore.

But, like hundreds of others, it was abandoned in 1947 as British India was divided into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The city of Lahore became part of Pakistan.

The new Pakistani state, struggling to accommodate the millions of refugees who had fled there in the bloody aftermath of Partition, allocated several Hindu and Sikh properties for them.

Niaz Baig's temple was among them. Its orchards and sacred rooms became home to the Meo community, an ethnic group originally from Gurgaon in India who converted to Islam from Hinduism between the 12th and 17th centuries.

But for many years after Partition, the temple's main building was largely abandoned; used occasionally by members of the community for wedding ceremonies and sometimes taken over by drug users and illegal gamblers.

Unhappy with how the sacred space was being used, in the 1970s a few members of the community decided to convert it into a mosque.

The man primarily responsible for this was Bashir Ahmad Meo.

Riaz Haq said...

#India hires Cornerstone as #Washington lobbyist to provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and govt relations assistance on policy matters before the #US Government, Capitol Hill, state govts, academic institutions and think-tanks. https://politi.co/2LpDxuT via @politico

India’s government has hired Cornerstone Government Affairs on a three-month contract to represent it in Washington. Cornerstone will provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and government relations assistance on policy matters before the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, and select state governments, as well as academic institutions and think-tanks,” according to a copy of the contract filed with the Justice Department. The contract is worth $40,000 a month.

sikh said...

As a Sikh I welcome Pakistan move.
As Pakistan is moving towards more inclusiveness, India is going back.

I hope everyone live in peace. " Sarbhat da Bhalla".

Riaz Haq said...

#US commission on #ReligiousFreedom says #India's Citizenship Amendment Bill #CAB is a "dangerous turn in wrong direction" & seeks #American sanctions against #Modi's Home Minister #AmitShah if bill is passes #Indian Parliament. #Muslims #Islamophobia

A federal US commission on international religious freedom has said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a "dangerous turn in wrong direction" and sought American sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the bill is passed by both houses of the Indian Parliament.

According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

Shah on Monday introduced the controversial bill in Lok Sabha, where it was passed with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it, will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod.

Shah while introducing the bill had made it clear that people belonging to any religion should not have any fear under Prime Minister Narendra Modi government as he asserted that the bill will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries.

Shah asserted that the bill has the endorsement of 1.3 billion Indian citizens and rejected suggestions that the measure is anti-Muslims, saying it will give rights to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

"Citizenship amendment bill has the endorsement of 1.3 billion citizens of the country as it was the part of the BJP manifesto in 2014 as well as 2019 Lok Sabha elections," he said.

However, the bill has been opposed by the Congress, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties.

In a statement issued on Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that it was deeply troubled over the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha.

"If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership," the commission said.

"USCIRF is 'deeply troubled' by the passage of the CAB, originally introduced by Home Minister Shah, in the Lok Sabha given the religion criterion in the bill," it added.

USCIRF alleged that the CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.

"The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India's rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith," it said.

Stating that in conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that Home Minister Shah seeks to propose, the commission said: "USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims".

It also said that for more than a decade now the Indian Government has ignored the statements and annual reports of the USCIRF.

India from the days of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime has consistently said that it does not recognises a third country's views or reports on its internal affairs.

It is based on this ground that India for more than a decade now has denied visas to USCIRF to travel to India for their on the ground assessment of the religious freedom in India.

Recommendations of USCIRF are not enforceable. However, its recommendations are seriously taken into consideration by the US Government in particular the State Department which is tasked with powers to take sanctionable actions against foreign entities and individuals for violation of religious freedom and human rights.

Riaz Haq said...

No outreach on #CAA , foreign #diplomats warn: #India fast losing friends. People in their countries are questioning #Modi government’s commitment to “shared values”. #CAA_NRC_NPR #Hindutva #Islamophobia | India News,The Indian Express


Diplomats across continents say the unflattering images and articles about the protests and the government crackdown in the foreign press have made it harder for India’s “friends”, as many in their countries are questioning the government’s commitment to “shared values”.

More than a fortnight after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act came into force and triggered nationwide protests, there is growing unease within the capital’s foreign diplomatic community over the BJP-led NDA government’s moves.

The diplomats have publicly maintained that the CAA is an “internal issue”. However, when The Indian Express spoke to ambassadors and diplomats from at least 16 countries, across all continents, over the last few days on the new law and the protests, they expressed “concern” at the situation.

The other key takeaway was this: The government held several briefings for them on various issues it had described as “domestic” — Pulwama attack, Balakot airstrike, revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and even the Ayodhya verdict. But it has not briefed them even once on the CAA and its ramifications.

“The Indian government briefed us on Kashmir and even the Ayodhya verdict although it maintained that they were domestic issues. But they did not bother to brief us on the CAA, which has an international dimension to it — after all, it talks of three of India’s neighbouring countries in the region,” an ambassador from a G-20 country said.

The new law grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — but not Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until December 31, 2014.

The diplomats, who include representatives from G-20 and P-5 groupings, and neighbouring countries, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is “sensitive” and any attribution “may impact” bilateral ties.

They recalled that through 2019, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) held several briefings, mostly after Pulwama-Balakot in February-March, followed by Kashmir from August to October — and, to their surprise, even once on the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.

While bilateral conversations have happened, they said there hasn’t been any attempt to brief them together, or in batches, as was the practice in the other cases. They said some written material, mostly in the form of FAQs on the CAA, have been shared with embassies.

In such a situation, most of these diplomats have concluded that the protests were not limited to the Muslim community. They are now trying to get a sense of whether the government is “bothered” by the international criticism against the law.

On the ground, the first major diplomatic fallout of protests against the CAA were cancellations of visits by Bangladesh’s Foreign and Home ministers, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Many foreign diplomats feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be responsive to international criticism, but they are not sure about Home Minister Amit Shah. “The international press is being read by our headquarters, and they have been asking us about how much political and diplomatic risk can the Modi government take,” one of the diplomats said.

Riaz Haq said...

Chomsky: #India's Symptoms Of #Fascism: “Well, I mean, the whole institutional structure of India, plus the great mass of the Hindu population, is evidently very supportive of the undermining of Kashmiri autonomy and opening up to Indian settlement” #Modi https://countercurrents.org/2020/01/in-india-what-we-are-seeing-is-the-symptoms-of-fascism-noam-chomsky

Chomsky: I don’t think its true that the middle-class (in India) has gained, its basically stagnating, the figures are pretty clear on that. As I say, in the United States, which is one of the most effective economies, its basically been no gains in 40 years for working people and petty bourgeouise. They are angry. And the anger can be exploited by somebody like Trump, who says its not your fault, it’s the fault of poor people, it’s the blacks, or Hispanics, or muslims. And Modi does the same thing. Turn the attention to extreme Hindu nationalism. They are taking our country away from us, get rid of these muslims.

Chomsky: "Yea, the support for what Modi did in Kashmir is overwhelming among the Hindu population."

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan buys more #PalmOil from #Malaysia after #Modi cuts its import. Pak bought 135,000 tons of #Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high. Pakistan bought 1.1 million tons of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while #India bought 4.4 million tons. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-says-043409002.html

By Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Pakistan will buy more palm oil from Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday, aiming to help offset lost sales after top buyer India put curbs on Malaysian imports last month amid a diplomatic row.

India imposed restrictions on refined palm oil imports and informally asked traders to stop buying from Malaysia, the world's biggest producer of the edible oil. Sources said the move was in retaliation for Malaysia's criticism of India's new religion-based citizenship law and its policy on Kashmir.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday that he discussed palm oil with Khan who was on a visit to Malaysia and that Pakistan had indicated it would import more from Malaysia.

"That's right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports," Khan told a joint news conference, referring to India's Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

"Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that."

India is a Hindu-majority country while Malaysia and Pakistan are mainly Muslim. India and Pakistan have been mostly hostile to each other since the partition of British India in 1947, and have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir.

Pakistan may have bought around 135,000 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high, India-based dealers who track such shipments told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The figure is close to estimates of 141,500 tonnes from Refinitiv, which show sales to India in January may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes.

Malaysia will release official export data on Monday.

Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4 million tonnes, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Tuesday after Khan's comments and on expectations of a steep drop in production in January.


India has repeatedly objected to Mahathir speaking out against its move last year to strip Kashmir's autonomy and make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain citizenship.

At the news conference, Mahathir did not refer to Kashmir but Khan did.

"The way you, PM, have stood with us and spoken about this injustice going on, on behalf of Pakistan I really want to thank you," Khan said.

He also said he was sad he had been unable to attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Malaysia in December. Saudi Arabia did not attend the summit, saying it was the wrong forum to discuss matters affecting the world's Muslims and Khan belatedly pulled out.

Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said at the time that Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, a close ally, although local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for his absence.

"Unfortunately our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah," Khan said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim community but not mentioning Saudi Arabia by name.

"It is clearly a misconception, as that was not the purpose of the conference."

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipapalan; additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad; editing by Tom Hogue and Susan Fenton)

Riaz Haq said...

Perhaps #Modi's words explain the current situation best: "Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai" (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us). Probably a reference to 1000 years of #Muslim rule, 200 years of #British Raj in #India https://www.firstpost.com/politics/1200-years-of-servitude-pm-modi-offers-food-for-thought-1567805.html

New Delhi: "Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai. Bahut baar humse thoda ooncha vyakti mile, to sar ooncha karke baat karne ki humari taaqat nahin hoti hai (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us. Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster strength to speak up).

Those were some seminal words in the speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. He was speaking as part of the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address to the joint session of the Parliament on 9 June. The key phrase was – "1,200 years of slave mentality".

For years, India has grown up on the hard fact of "slavery of 200 years", that refers to the period that the country was under the British rule. By expanding it to 1,200 years—by including the millennium in which major rulers of the country were Muslims—is PM Modi trying to bring about a paradigm change in the way we perceive our history?

However, this is not the first time he has used this phrase in his speech – he has referred to "1,200 years of slavery" in quite a few of his addresses in previous years. The phrase assumes significance now as he is the prime minister of the country.

Scholars are divided on their assessment of this new usage in the context of Indian history. Makkhan Lal, historian and former ICHR Council member, says, "The prime minister has stated historical facts. He was not asserting to political correctness. Whether Ghoris, Ghaznavis, or the rulers of the Sultanate or the Mughal period, they were all foreigners originally. They didn't belong to the culture of the land then. They came from outside, waged wars against the local rulers, took them captive and in many cases, plundered the resources and ruled the land by enslaving the locals."

The question, it seems, is not about foreign rule or local rule, but about 'slavery' or subservience to a foreign power that gave birth to slave mentality. Lal elaborates, "Had the British not left India in 1947, and stayed on and become one among the Indians, they too would have begun to be considered as non-foreign."


After all, it was not just Hindu rulers that the invading Muslims fought against. In later period, often, the locals challenging the invading Muslim armies were Muslim themselves. Says Rajeev Kumar Srivastav of Banaras Hindu University, "Most of the foreign Muslim rulers of India between 1206-1256 paid obeisance to the Khalifa and not to an Indian authority, which clearly points to their foreign character. Even local Muslims were at loggerheads with the Muslim rulers, which is clearly referred to in the book Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi, by Zia-ud-din Barni and Shams-i-Siraj Afifi written during Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Firuz Shah's reign.”

As expected, the repositioning of the period of 'slavery' in Indian history is bound to incite academic attack. Mushirul Hasan, historian and former vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, says, "It is complete falsification of history. Several historians have refuted this fact but if the government wants to revisit it, they are free to do so, just as we are free to contest. The British didn't make India their home, whereas Muslims who came here, settled in India and contributed to the country’s culture. That gave birth to the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (syncretic culture)."

Riaz Haq said...

#India is facing twin #economic & #political #crises under #Modi. Ex chief #economist Arvind Subramanian says every important indicator — investment, credit, profits, tax revenue, industrial output, exports and imports — has weakened. https://www.ft.com/content/81a7935c-56e0-11ea-abe5-8e03987b7b20 via @financialtimes


The crackdown in Kashmir, the explicit discrimination against Muslims in the new Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed national register of citizens, in a country with notoriously bad documentation, and the apparent intention to deport Muslims who cannot prove their right to stay, do together suggest a transformation of the Indian polity. So, too, is the free use of labels like “traitor” for those who disagree and “sedition” about those who protest. It is quite clear, surely, that the transformation of India into another “illiberal democracy” is long-intended. Little wonder US president Donald Trump admires Mr Modi. They play the same game, but Mr Modi’s majority gives him more cards.
India is undergoing another transformation. The India I first visited, in the 1970s, was impressively democratic — with the exception of the period known as the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi between 1975 and 1977. But its economy grew too slowly. After the balance of payments crisis of 1991, India introduced radical reforms. Over the next two decades its economy became faster-growing, while the political system remained robustly democratic. After the global financial crisis, however, growth slowed. India’s politics is also now moving towards an aggressively illiberal form of majoritarianism. These twin changes are not for the better.

Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic adviser, has co-authored a paper on the post-crisis slowdown. It notes that every important indicator — investment, credit, profits, tax revenue, industrial output, exports and imports — has weakened sharply since the financial crisis. Yet overall economic growth has supposedly risen. This contradiction persuaded him to challenge the reliability of official estimates of economic growth. His conclusion was that the overestimate of growth between 2011 and 2016 averaged about 2.5 percentage points annually, which would lower average growth to somewhere around 4.5 per cent. If true, this has been really poor.

Alas, there is worse. The economy has been slowing even more dramatically in the recent past, even on the official statistics. These show that growth of gross domestic product slowed to just 4.5 per cent, year on year, in the third quarter of last year. Growth may now turn around. But the slowdown has been dramatic, comparable even to what happened in the crisis of the early 1990s.

So what explains the weak growth after 2008 and the sharper slowdown in the recent past? First, unsustainable expansion of exports and credit-fuelled domestic investment exaggerated India’s pre-crisis growth rate. Second, despite the post-crisis emergence of severe balance-sheet-problems in financial and non-financial corporate sectors, government spending, falling oil prices and buoyant lending from non-bank financial companies sustained growth. Finally, credit from these last institutions collapsed in 2019. Consumption then joined other sources of demand — notably investment and exports — in weakening sharply. Today, argues Mr Subramanian, a vicious spiral is at work: high interest rates, weak economic growth and poor profitability are worsening debt burdens and so aggravating the problems of financial and non-financial corporations.

Riaz Haq said...

Historic Rivals #India and #Pakistan Team Up To Fight #Locusts. 3 meetings held in India & 3 in Pakistan, and they take place in a high-security but friendly environment, with #military officers attending along with locust experts. #LocustInvasion https://undark.org/2020/04/20/india-pakistan-locusts/

Locust management in the region predates the India-Pakistan conflict. A predecessor of today’s Locust Warning Organization, a division of the Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, was established before the partition in 1939 in Karachi, now the capital of Pakistan, after a particularly brutal locust invasion from 1926 to 1931. And despite the decades of conflict that followed, when it comes to systemic issues such as food security, the partnership between the two countries is well honed, says Khan.

Six times a year, during the summer and fall, delegates from both sides of the border meet to discuss pest breeding patterns and control strategies, monitoring reports and local forecasts.

Three of the meetings are held in India and three in Pakistan, and while they take place in a high-security environment, with military forces attending the meeting along with locust specialists from the two countries, the atmosphere is always friendly, according to the participants. The officials’ only focus is food security and the betterment of the region, says Rajesh Malik, plant protection adviser with the Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. He says they meet regularly regardless of the political situation.

Over the years, the two countries have developed sophisticated surveillance capacity, consisting of trained personnel as well as vehicles and specialized equipment, which Khan says is key to contain the locust spread. Through its portal Locust Watch, the FAO helps countries coordinate locust response on the ground, a process that has become increasingly high tech in recent years. To ensure it collects timely and detailed information, it distributes satellite antennas that connect the monitoring teams to the internet. Officials on the ground are also equipped with a tablet to log information on the presence of locusts and their development stage, as well as data such as soil moisture and vegetation.

Through the satellite connection the tablet transmits the exact coordinates of each report, which are then relayed back to the public in the FAO monthly bulletins. Countries use this information to target breeding sites for pesticide spraying. In extreme cases, low flying aircrafts can target vast swarms with precision.

But the response chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if any one part of the response breaks down then the whole system can fall apart. “In Yemen there was a war-like situation,” says Khan referring to the desert country’s ongoing civil war. That conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, with thousands dead and millions on the verge of starvation. In the midst of the crisis, the nation’s locust control activity has been neglected — even as locusts continued to breed and migrate towards Asia last year. Khan says the environment in Yemen remains favorable to locusts, and breeding could escalate again.

Last December, says Khan, countries of the United Nations’ Desert Locust Control Committee came together in Ethiopia and discussed the lack of response capacity in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. “First and foremost, these countries need surveillance,” he says. “They need technical manpower followed by robust control operations and immediate response.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #coronavirus: Twenty held for stopping funeral of a #Christian doctor who died of #COVID19. Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in #Chennai (formerly Madras). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52364571

At least 20 people have been arrested in south India for violently preventing the burial of a prominent doctor who died of Covid-19.

Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in Chennai (formerly Madras).

One of his friends had to quietly bury him in the early hours of Monday without any family members present.

He said the neurosurgeon "didn't deserve this end".

"He was not shown even basic humanity. Even his wife and son couldn't be there to say goodbye," Dr Pradeep told the News Minute website.

Local media reported that a mob of about 20 people attacked Dr Hercules' friends and family with sticks and rods. Two ambulance drivers were also injured in the incident.

Police said the people lived near the burial ground and were worried that burying Covid-19 patients in the vicinity would spread the virus.

Dr Pradeep said that Dr Hercules continued to serve during the pandemic instead of staying home, and he most likely got the infection from one of his patients.

Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar condemned the incident.

"What happened to that doctor is condemnable. Such things should not happen in the future," he said.

Experts have said that people need to be more aware about the burial rules for Covid-19 patients.

The federal health ministry guidelines say that burying the bodies of coronavirus victims is safe if all precautions are followed.

These include instructions for how bodies should be handled and disposed off. It also defines what kind of rituals can be carried out.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's acolytes have reminded #India's #Muslims just what he thinks of them. An image in #NewYork #TimesSquare celebrated not only the construction of a #Hindu temple but the destruction of a mosque. #BabriMasjid #AyodhyaRamMandir | Siddhartha Deb https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/06/modi-india-muslims-times-square-hindu-temple

The coronavirus might have been expected to put a halt to Modi’s American fantasies, it being as difficult to leave the United States now as it is to enter India. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Modi’s Hindu right supporters in the United States – fronted by a group called the American Indian Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – who decided to lease giant screens in Times Square on Wednesday 5 August to display images of the Hindu god Ram and a temple to Ram being inaugurated that day in India by Modi.

There was a demo and a counter-demo and, while the plan to project an image of the proposed temple on the high-profile Nasdaq screen in Times Square did not materialise, one digital board showing the temple aired over the Hershey’s store for a limited part of the day. As their celebration of the temple appeared on a giant screen, the “Indian community” distributed sweets in Times Square. Protests were lodged with the mayor and with the billboard companies by a diverse range of groups, and were apparently successful in preventing the images from being displayed on a majority of the screens, including those on the Nasdaq building, but even the solitary airbrushed image of the Ram temple concealed far more than it revealed.

The temple construction is taking place in the provincial north Indian city of Ayodhya. This demolition was the high point of a long campaign by the Hindu right, so successful in creating an imagined grievance that it turned the BJP from a political oddity to the totalitarian behemoth it is today.

Even before the mosque was demolished, Hindus in India and abroad were asked to donate bricks to build a Ram temple, based on the claim that the mosque stood on the alleged birthplace of Ram. Bricks, some made of gold, arrived from Britain and the United States as well as from thousands of villages and towns in India in response to this campaign. Yet rather than birth, violent death was the true shrine of this campaign. Around 2,000 people died in the spiral of violence set off by the demolition of the mosque; soon the vilification of Muslims had become an everyday affair in India. Even the Gujarat pogroms in 2002 were set off by an incident involving the death of Hindu pilgrims returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya after a celebration of the demolition of the mosque.


Mussolini confided in his son that one of his nightmares was that he would be put on trial at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in case of capture by the Allies. Narendra Modi’s fantasy was to hold his victory rally there, as he did in September 2014, soon after being elected prime minister of India. Returning triumphantly to the heart of the very empire that denied him a diplomatic visa and revoked his tourist visa for an anti-Muslim pogrom carried out while he was chief minister in Gujarat in 2002, Modi’s presence at Madison Square Garden sparked off the rapturous belligerence of 20,000 supporters. Since then, through events like “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump”, Modi appears to have made America his second home and Donald Trump a buddy, a coming together of civilisations ancient and modern as well as a merger of two failed states with among the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

After #BabriMasjid verdict, #ArnabGoswami bail and failure to protect #Indian & #Kashmiri #Muslims' basic #humanrights, #India's Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. #Hindutva #Modi https://www.ft.com/content/5ddc4de6-90a4-4f18-83b0-0366e50bc67b

by Marina Wheeler

I wonder what they would make of the increasing alarm I hear from my Indian lawyer friends. Each week, it seems, some new outrage amplifies their anxiety that the rule of law in the country is being eroded. Questions are being asked about the impartiality of judgments at all levels of the system. The latest episode involved a decision by the Supreme Court to intervene in the case of Arnab Goswami, a rightwing television news presenter and founder of Republic TV, which is widely seen as supportive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. The country’s highest court ordered Mr Goswami — arrested in a suicide case — be released on bail after a lower court refused his petition. On its own, this decision would not have warranted much attention. But critics noted that the court found time to sit over a holiday recess — while many journalists, lawyers, writers and activists critical of the government have been arrested and still languish in jail, awaiting their hearings. Away from the headlines, there is a deeper fear that the justice system itself is failing, under the pressure of political abuse and manipulation. Many Indians revere their constitution, which dexterously balances the rights and aspirations of a hugely diverse population. In its drafting, BR Ambedkar — who was a Dalit, from the lowest caste — kept the minorities and disadvantaged very much in mind. But in Mr Modi’s India, with its rightwing Hindu majority, the protections he crafted seem flimsier than ever. The Goswami decision was not an isolated case. There are other signs that the Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. In January 2018, four of the court’s judges themselves raised concerns about administrative interference in the assignment of sensitive cases. Last year, the court decided a bitter dispute over a contested religious site at Ayodhya, revered by many Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram. In December 1992, a mob tore down a 16th-century mosque on the site. But the court accepted the argument that some kind of structure predated the mosque and sanctioned the construction of a Hindu temple there. Fears that the judgment would be met by rioting were misplaced. Instead, there was resignation from opponents of the decision and celebration from the Hindu right. Increasingly, it feels as though the secular foundations of the republic are being dismantled and that religious minorities, whom the constitution declares equal before the law, are losing their voice. In 1947, the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India as a semi-autonomous state. The constitution protected its special status until August 2019, when Mr Modi’s government revoked it and ordered a clampdown on the region, putting local political leaders under house arrest and closing communications. Meanwhile, nearly 2m mainly Muslims in Assam state have been excluded from a citizens’ register, and in effect declared “irregular foreigners”. Petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court challenging both the citizenship act and repression in Kashmir — but they are as yet unheard.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's Trudeau tantrum as Trudeau speaks for #Sikhs. Trudeau has become a massive pain in the neck for #India. #Canada has 18 #Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. #Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (3) than Modi. https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-throws-a-trudeau-tantrum-11607643923?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter via @WSJ

In a failed attempt to stall the farmers, authorities have lobbed tear-gas shells, dug up trenches, erected concrete barriers and deployed water cannons and phalanxes of baton-wielding policemen. Despite several rounds of negotiations with protest leaders, the standoff shows no sign of abating. Farmers have threatened to hunker down for months and to block all traffic to and from the national capital.

Amid a pandemic, recession and border face-off with China, the protests represent the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his re-election last year. More than half of Indians earn a living from agriculture. No government can afford to be seen as hostile to their interests.

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Enter Mr. Trudeau. Speaking over video last month to Canadian Sikhs—many of whom maintain close links with their families in Indian Punjab—the prime minister called the situation in India “concerning.” He asserted that Canada would “defend the right of peaceful protest.”

Founded in the late 15th century in Punjab, Sikhism is the most global of the faiths rooted in India. (Indian Buddhism has dwindled over time.) Boston University’s World Religion Database estimates that about 2.5 million of the world’s 28 million Sikhs live outside India. The Sikh diaspora encompasses dairy farmers in Italy, hoteliers in Kenya, maize farmers in Ethiopia, and policemen in Malaysia. But the largest and most prosperous overseas Sikh communities have sprouted in the Anglosphere: 570,000 in the U.K., 529,000 in Canada, 410,000 in the U.S. and 170,000 in Australia.

In Canada, Sikhs account for only 1.4% of the population, but their concentration in certain districts and close-knit communities give them political clout. Canada has 18 Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. Mr. Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (three) than Mr. Modi. Both Mr. Trudeau and his predecessor, Stephen Harper, have visited Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Mr. Trudeau’s Indian critics complain that, in pursuit of the Sikh vote, Mr. Trudeau turns a blind eye to elements in the community that back the creation of a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan. In 2017, Mr. Trudeau attended an event that eulogized separatists killed by Indian security forces. And three years ago, a visit to India turned into a PR disaster after a reception for the prime minister included a Canadian Sikh convicted of attempting to murder an Indian Sikh politician.

Riaz Haq said...

#India Just Had the Biggest Protest in World History with over 250 million farm workers on strike for 24 hours. This massive people’s movement has gained attention worldwide. #Modi #FarmerBill2020 #Sikh https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/12/india-farmer-protests-modi.html via @slate

Modi, in his attempt to quietly ease things for agribusiness corporations in the middle of his oppressive pandemic regime, inadvertently sparked the single largest proletariat uprising in world history. And these farmers are pressuring the Modi administration in a way past protesters simply could not. Last week, government officials started meeting with farm union leaders, and they also granted the marchers a designated area of Delhi within which to carry on the protest (although this mandated location is far from the Parliament House). However, many protesters wished to remain at the city border, having brought ample equipment to set up camps along the boundaries wherein the demonstrators can prepare food and organize.

The farmers are demanding nothing less than a full retraction of the laws and say they are willing to remain at the capital’s outskirts until this is done. They also are asking Parliament for other special demands and regulations to keep small farms competitive in the marketplace, according to India Today. The newsmagazine also mentions that “the central government has agreed to work on most of the demands and make them part of the rules—which will need Parliament’s approval—except that of making purchases on [minimum support price] rates mandatory.” Without this last measure, talks with the government have continually stalled and restarted, reaching a deadlock. And on Monday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made a show of meeting with a small group of farmers who were mostly BJP supporters in favor of the new law, ignoring the masses outside who were very staunchly opposed to it.

The BJP is now starting to take more drastic, desperate crackdown measures. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that leaders of opposition parties in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh who have supported the farmers’ protest, including Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, had been barricaded in their homes by police, reportedly under the government’s direction. (Police soon relented in Kejriwal’s case after further protests.)

Riaz Haq said...

#India Just Had the Biggest Protest in World History with over 250 million farm workers on strike for 24 hours. This massive people’s movement has gained attention worldwide. #Modi #FarmerBill2020 #Sikh https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/12/india-farmer-protests-modi.html via @slate

Modi, in his attempt to quietly ease things for agribusiness corporations in the middle of his oppressive pandemic regime, inadvertently sparked the single largest proletariat uprising in world history. And these farmers are pressuring the Modi administration in a way past protesters simply could not. Last week, government officials started meeting with farm union leaders, and they also granted the marchers a designated area of Delhi within which to carry on the protest (although this mandated location is far from the Parliament House). However, many protesters wished to remain at the city border, having brought ample equipment to set up camps along the boundaries wherein the demonstrators can prepare food and organize.

The farmers are demanding nothing less than a full retraction of the laws and say they are willing to remain at the capital’s outskirts until this is done. They also are asking Parliament for other special demands and regulations to keep small farms competitive in the marketplace, according to India Today. The newsmagazine also mentions that “the central government has agreed to work on most of the demands and make them part of the rules—which will need Parliament’s approval—except that of making purchases on [minimum support price] rates mandatory.” Without this last measure, talks with the government have continually stalled and restarted, reaching a deadlock. And on Monday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made a show of meeting with a small group of farmers who were mostly BJP supporters in favor of the new law, ignoring the masses outside who were very staunchly opposed to it.

The BJP is now starting to take more drastic, desperate crackdown measures. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that leaders of opposition parties in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh who have supported the farmers’ protest, including Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, had been barricaded in their homes by police, reportedly under the government’s direction. (Police soon relented in Kejriwal’s case after further protests.)

Riaz Haq said...

Nowadays, Indian reactions to Pakistan span the spectrum. There’s implacable hatred for the country in some quarters, vitriol directed at it is motivated by anger over terrorism or designed as a dog whistle to exert everyday pressure on Indian Muslims. Some disgracefully even celebrated the plane crash at Karachi in May. At the other end, thousands profess their love for Pakistani music and television dramas – one has to only see the comments on any Coke Studio (Pakistan) song on YouTube to comprehend the fervour among Indians.


Regardless of the vantage, there’s no doubt that Indians are singularly uninformed about Pakistan in general. Most would fail basic geography tests; is Lahore to the north or south of Islamabad and where do they lie in relation to Rawalpindi? The reasons are not hard to divine. There is no established tradition of allowing journalists to be posted in each other’s countries; tourist visas are hostage to political ties and academic production on Pakistan in India is negligible and often bereft of quality. Bigotry thrives amid the absence of elementary insight; there has for long been a market gap in India for a readable account of Pakistan – and fortunately, Sameer Arshad Khatlani, a Kashmiri journalist, has filled it with a charming, insightful book in The Other Side of the Divide: A Journey Into the Heart of Pakistan.


Punjab also has a longer history of mutuality and belonging which aren’t easily extinguished by the imperatives of geopolitical calculation. The history of Sikhism, for instance, is very much bound with engagement with Muslim communities. Guru Nanak had a Muslim teacher, Maulana Qutab-ud-din, who taught him Arabic and Persian; Rai Bular, a Muslim, was Nanak’s first devotee outside his family and the one who persuaded Nanak’s father to tolerate his other worldly pursuits. Bular figures in the Guru Granth Sahib and donated large tracts of land to Nanak which became part of the Nankana Sahib complex, one of the holiest shrines in Sikhism. Bular’s descendants to this day lead the celebrations on Nanak’s birth anniversary and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has wanted to commemorate Bular’s ‘immense contribution’ to Sikh history.

The portrait of another Muslim, Nawab Rai Kahla, hangs in Amritsar’s Central Sikh Museum, in recognition of his courage to provide shelter to Guru Gobind Singh. There’s more: Baba Farid’s verses “are an important part of the Guru Grant Sahib”, Mian Mir, a Sufi saint from Lahore, is “widely believed to have laid the foundation” of the Golden Temple, while Ram Das, the Lahore-born fourth Sikh guru, established Amritsar’s foundation in 1577 around an estate that emperor Akbar had granted to his wife, Bibi Bhani. Khatlani explains the bonds of Lahore and Amritsar very evocatively and concludes that “an artificial line drawn through the heart of Punjab cannot be deep enough to change the shared language, culture, customs, idioms and attitudes shaped over centuries.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan fires 12 police officers for failure to protect #Hindu temple in #Karak. Regional #KP government also suspended 33 other police officers for a year as punishment., offering sharp contrast to #India's #babriverdict. #Modi #BJP https://aje.io/4yvyh via @AJEnglish

Pakistani authorities have sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a religious party, police said.

The 12 policemen were fired on Thursday over acts of “cowardice, irresponsibility and negligence” for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene.

The regional government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also suspended 33 other police officers for a year as punishment, provincial police chief Sanaullah Abbasi said.

The punishments come amid government assurances that the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi temple – situated in the remote village of Teri in Karak district, some 85km (53 miles) south of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – would be rebuilt.

Last week, Pakistan’s Supreme Court also ordered the rebuilding of the temple, with the next hearing in the case set for January 19.

On December 30, about 2,000 men ransacked the historic temple built in 1920 and an adjacent Hindu shrine, destroying the compound and setting fire to it.

The mob led by a local Muslim leader was enraged by the renovation of a building adjacent to the temple that was recently bought by the Hindu community to facilitate visiting devotees.

The attack took place after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple.

Pakistan is home to an estimated 3.5 million Hindus, who form a 1.6 percent minority of the country’s 207 million population, as per government figures.

More than 30 rioters, including the Muslim leader who allegedly incited the mob, have already been arrested after they were identified in videos of the attack uploaded online.

The arrested included supporters of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who are currently facing trials on various charges.

Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, violence against the minority community often centres around the country’s strict, and heavily emotive, blasphemy laws.

Attacks on Hindu temples, while not common, have been increasing in frequency in recent years.

Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when the Indian subcontinent gained independence from the British rule, resulting in the formation of Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Last year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) renewed its designation of Pakistan as a “country of particular concern”, citing, among other reasons, “severely restricted freedom of religion or belief”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi’s bulldozing of #Indian parliament shows him as the architect of a #Hindu #Taliban . Flattening the majestic #Mughal -inspired buildings is the latest stage in a hateful, vanity-fuelled campaign to de-Islamify #India . #Islamophobia | The Guardian


At the heart of New Delhi, the capital of India, sits a Mughal-inspired monument that houses the seat of the Indian parliament. Built by the British architect Edwin Lutyens between 1911 and 1931, the parliament buildings and their grand roadways and water channels follow the form established by the Islamic rulers of Iran and elaborated by the Islamic sultanate of Samarkand and the Mughal rulers of India.

Lutyens designed perhaps the most important Islamic-inspired edifice of modern times. The buildings quote architectural emblems from Hindu temples and palaces, but the grand plan follows the design of Mughal-Islamic landscape with a light nod to Roman triumphalism. It is, in my view, the greatest set of government buildings anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, the Islamic origin of these buildings offends the current regime in Delhi. It is why the tyrant Modi and his henchmen are destroying it. As I write, the destruction is under way. It is an abomination that Modi’s hate-filled campaign to de-Islamify India is allowed to continue via the destruction of a world-class monument. Astonishingly, the UN heritage forum is silent and world heritage bodies have kept their mouths firmly closed. Are they afraid of Modi, or do they not care what happens in India?

Modi has appointed third-rate Bimal Patel as his architect. Patel will design its replacement much in the way that Albert Speer followed his F├╝hrer’s lead, but, of course, Patel does not have an iota of Speer’s talent.

This ideologically driven, hate-filled destruction follows the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 and the vandalism of Islamic and Mughal monuments all over India. Modi appears to want nothing less than the obliteration of all the Islamic monuments of India and the removal of the 200 million Indian Muslims. Let us not forget that he has already forcibly taken away Indian citizenship from many millions of Indian Muslims and rendered them stateless – a crime for which he has not been brought to book, even though India is a signatory to the UN declaration of human rights, of which citizenship is a central tenet.

The pretence that the destruction of this grand vista is justified by a lack of space for parliament is flimsy. The National Museum of India, which is housed in one of the buildings to be demolished, is to be moved to a space inadequate for its marvellous collections, putting at risk many invaluable and fragile works of art. All this will be done at breakneck speed in order to have the work finished before the end of Modi’s term in office. The Indian courts have been pressured to acquiesce to this idiotic scheme and journalists and other commentators have been intimidated.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan deploys paramilitary forces after #Hindu temple attacked by mob. Earlier, a cleric at the seminary told police he found a young Hindu boy in the building urinating on the ground. Police registered a case of #blasphemy, but did not name a suspect. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistan-deploys-paramilitary-forces-after-hindu-temple-attacked-by-mob-2021-08-05/

Pakistan deployed paramilitary forces in a central town on Thursday to check communal unrest after a mob ransacked and set fire to a Hindu temple.

Ahmad Nawaz, a spokesperson for the Rahimyar Khan district police, told Reuters that the mob attacked the temple in the town of Bhong after reports that a Hindu boy had urinated in the library of an Islamic seminary.

Nawaz added police were searching for the attackers, and trying to ascertain if a boy in custody suspected of desecrating the seminary was from the local Hindu community.

On July 24, a cleric at the seminary told police he found a young Hindu boy in the building urinating on the ground. Police registered a case of blasphemy, but did not name a suspect.

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Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, and although no executions have been carried out, suspects are often killed by vigilantes.

The temple was attacked after someone posted details of the incident on social media on Wednesday, Ramesh Vankwani, a parliament member and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said on Twitter.

Police had the post deleted, Vankwani said, but a crowd gathered near the temple.

"Finally seeing the mob, even the police left, and I asked for (paramilitary) Rangers or the army to deploy, but by then the temple was destroyed and set on fire."

Vankwani shared videos showing hundreds of people heading for the single-story temple building. Dozens of men can be seen using sticks and iron beams to damage idols within the temple.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

Temples belonging to the minority Hindu population in Pakistan are often the target of mob violence. In December 2020, a large mob destroyed a century old Hindu temple in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province read more .

Pakistan ranked the highest globally in incidents of mob violence and criminal charges against those accused of blasphemy, according to a May report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which surveyed incidents between 2014 and 2018.