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.”

Summary:

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:

https://youtu.be/nMrydKhvi9M




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

8 comments:

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

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india

“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.


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
https://mybs.in/2XBQ6fw


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.