#India – Narendra Modi Slide Show to woo Muslims


MODI1

Shaheen Khan Naqshbandi

So Modi Ji is now wooing Muslims. Hmm. Interesting!

At a function yesterday, Modi Ji agreed to see a PowerPoint Presentation
about Muslims of Gujarat. I cannot help but wonder whether the PowerPoint
Presentation had the following Slides:

1)…a slide where, during the riots, he said, “Hinduoon ko apni badaas
nikaalne do”.

2)…a slide where he was in Police Control Room listening to everything and
doing nothing to stop the riots.

3)…a slide where ‘Safed Daadhi’ gave the approval to Vanzara to kill
scores of innocent Muslims like Ishrat Jahan in cold-blood.

4)…a slide where he ridiculed young Muslim boys as being future ‘garage
mechanics’.

5)…a slide where he called Muslims with the prefix “Mian” in contempt.

6)…a slide where no Muslim candidate was given ticket in the Assembly
elections.

7)…a slide where he refused to put on the Muslim cap, while he puts on
headgears of all other ethnicities and communities in his functions.
… a slide where tens of thousands of Muslims have still not been
rehabilitated even after 10 years of riots.

9)…a slide where ghettos where Muslim were forced to live after riots are
ignored by municipality.

10)…a slide where Modi fought a case in High Court against granting
scholorship to poor Muslim students.

11)…a slide where Maya Kodnani was promoted to Minister of State for Women
& Child Development AFTER she sucessfully conspired to kill 97 Muslims, MOST
of who were Women & Children

………

The SlideShow without these slides is simply incomplete in order to depict
the LOVE & RESPECT that Modi Ji has for Muslims.

 

Why Chetan Bhagat shouldn’t speak for Indian Muslims


Though written in the voice of an Indian Muslim, the author’s take is in fact the standard response of the textbook majoritarian

First Published: Mon, Jul 01 2013.T
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Jama Masjid during Ramzaan. Chetan Bhagat postitions himself as a young Indian Muslim angry at his exclusion from the mainstream capitalist, neoliberal project. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Updated: Mon, Jul 01 2013. 04 28 PM IST
Chetan Bhagat, ever the well-meaning bull in a china shop, wrote this weekend about the Indian Muslim. In his regular Times of Indiacolumn (in a piece headlined “Letter from an Indian Muslim Youth”), Bhagat appropriates the voice of—he doesn’t specify this, but it is easily surmised from the tone and content of the letter—a young Indian Muslim angry at his exclusion from the mainstream capitalist, neoliberal project. The piece is predictably disappointing in its understanding of the Muslim experience in India, but let us put that aside for the moment and discuss first this assumption of voice.
In India, we are perhaps overly protective of identity groupings. If a debate arises over the actions of a religious or caste group, or over the legacy of a historical figure, fear of giving offence sometimes leads to submission to loud voices instead of the safeguarding of freedom of information and thought. It is precisely this kind of criticism that Bhagat seeks to preempt when he writes, with splendid crudity, “I don’t have a name like Ahmed or Saeed or Mirza, anything that will clearly establish me as a Muslim.” Bhagat is saying, I am not a Muslim, so what? But what he is doing is actually pretty sneaky: His disclaimer is in fact a way of positioning himself, to the great majority of his audience, as someone qualified to write on this subject. The understanding he hopes to transmit to his reader through his mea culpa is that he should still be allowed to speak for the entirety of the Muslim population in India.
There are two problems with this. First, while anyone should be encouraged to produce scholarship and analysis about communities or historical figures, Bhagat’s casual ownership of the voice of 150 million people is patently not that. Second: It is precisely because I am an Indian and a Muslim that I would never dare to speak for all of us. I see the great variance in outlook, experience and especially opportunity that exists even within my own family. I compare my own privilege with the rest of Muslim India. I can understand why my views on the publication of The Satanic Verses might differ from a man or woman with a greater love for religious scripture. I cannot claim to speak for the lot of us.
Bhagat does not suffer such inadequacies. He drops, somewhat confusingly, the Indian Muslim voice for a moment to explain that he is an author of fiction, which means he might well be making fabrications—he leaves that to you, dear reader, to decide. This is another artless pretence, as if fiction writers are regularly permitted to write abject nonsense in op-eds—they are not, and certainly should not be allowed to in the future, millions of adoring readers or not.
Bhagat has a canny perceptiveness that sometimes serves him well. He has identified a major problem with the political experience of Indian Muslims, which is the capture of a great deal of the community’s vote by political parties who play the “secular card” without offering much else, especially quantifiable economic and political benefit.
This is a point that has been made numerous times. Where most differ is in the solution to this problem. Bhagat’s solution, though written in the voice of an Indian Muslim, is in fact the standard response of the textbook majoritarian, steeped in its favourite imagery (maulvis make an appearance in the first paragraph, skullcaps in the fourth) and couched in its favoured paternalist idiom.
What Bhagat is doing here is talking not as the Indian Muslim but to the Indian Muslim. His argument is basically a well-tuned representation of the argument Hindu nationalism has with Indian Muslims. As he points out first: “There is no shortage of Muslim achievers. There are Muslim stars in almost every field.” I imagine he means Shah Rukh Khan and Zaheer Khan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and others like them. The implication here is that the success of some from the community is indication that any Muslim “with a modern outlook and a desire to come up [sic] in life” should be able to achieve identical success. What seems like a neurotic celebration of Muslim achievement is in fact a stick that is used to beat the rest of the community with: Look what those people have managed to do in India. Why can’t you do the same? Bhagat fails to see, or perhaps understand, the forms religious discrimination can take; there is scant acknowledgment that it even exists in India.
His cloying condescension is hard to take: “We don’t need it as a handout. We are willing to work hard for it.” Again, his implication adheres to that hoary Hindutva chestnut: that the experience of Muslims in India has been of the “secular” state apportioning handouts and freebies that the community has unthinkingly grasped at. Someone should perhaps explain to Bhagat that Muslims have worked as hard as any other community before and since independence; that, as the Sachar Committee Report showed, it is the state that has, in fact, failed to provide service and opportunity for such a substantial number of its people.
What Bhagat will not admit is that this piece is the latest in his sporadic series in support of Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi and the bring-BJP-to-power-2014 effort. His argument is with the “secular” parties, the Congress and regional parties that garner Muslim votes, like the Samajwadi Party or Trinamool Congress. There is merit in this argument, as these parties’ abysmal record with Muslim communities, and their pandering to the most regressive elements within these communities, has proved. But—and this is only my suspicion—I wonder if his desire is the uplift of the long-marginalized Muslim community, or if this piece is a roundabout expression of his vexation with a religious group that he believes might well keep his favoured party and candidate out.
Years ago, I went to Madhya Pradesh to report on the last assembly elections there, a battle between the Congress and the incumbent BJP. I was fresh out of college and very indignant about the nature of minority politics in India. I was sitting, on one of my first days there, in a Muslim neighbourhood in Bhopal, talking to a group of young men. I asked them what the BJP had done for them.
“Nothing.”
I asked what the Congress had done for them.
“Nothing.”
I became excited. “Don’t you see,” I said, “why there is no difference between them? Neither of them do anything for you. Why should you think one is better than the other?”
One of the men, a taxi driver, said there was a difference. “It’s a personal thing. You know when the BJP is in power, these gangs, they can come to our mohalla, they can start a fight, break or burn something. We can’t respond. We go to the police, they won’t file a case. I suppose it’s a question of safety.”
I hadn’t used that exchange in my journalism until I wrote this response today. It was this man’s belief, and visceral as it was, it was unfair to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, which had a good record in these matters. But that man opened my eyes about two things. That I, from the elite, had a substantively different experience of my country than any disprivileged Indian, Hindu or Muslim. And that I should never presume to lecture people about the political choices they make. For the poor especially, the vote is their one connection with their political environment, with the factors and decisions that will shape their lives. They do not make that choice without thought.
Prayaag Akbar is the associate editor, The Sunday Guardian.

 

#India – Muslim women question community leaders with a public protest #Vaw


June 29th, Doolnews

Muslim women question community leaders with a public protest

On Saturday, Kozhikode, Kerala witnessed a first of its kind protest with a group of Muslim women burning an effigy of Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musalyar, General Secretary of the All India Sunni Jam-Eyyathul Ulema for his recent comments which supported the reducing of legal marriage age for Muslim women. This is the first time that the women from the community are coming out in protest against their own community leaders and opposing their regressive opinions.

The women not owing allegiance to any party or organisation said that they were forced to protest after the many regressive comments from Muslim organisations and clerics supporting the recent circular to legalise marriage of Muslim girls who have completed 16.

Kanthapuram had on Friday said that girls should be married off by the time they are 16 to prevent them from going wayward. The Jamaat-e-islami said that it is not right to fix the age for marriage in a democratic country like India. K. Alikutti Musaliar, the General Secretary of the SYS EK group had said that girls who have reached physical maturity can be married off. The Siraj newspaper owing allegiance to the AP Sunni group had published all their comments on Saturday, which led to the protest.

The women raised slogans that went – ‘Girls are not pieces of meat. Religious leaders should apologise for their comments’. They said that this is just a symbolic protest and if the leaders make further comments questioning the individuality of women, wider protest programmes will be arranged.

“The stand taken by these clerics and leaders is not just against Muslim society but against the whole of humanity. They are trying to see women as pieces of flesh and not as independent citizens. Marriage at such an age will only curtail the mental growth of these girls. It is also an age when they should be gaining better education and widen their horizon. The religious clerics do not want the girls to see the outside world. They are making such comments because they fear that educated girls who will be aware of their rights will question their authority,” said V.P. Rajeena, one of the protesters.

They criticised the UDF Government for acting according to the diktats of the religious organisations and coming out with a circular which is against the laws of a country where child marriage is illegal.

“The circular was issued keeping in mind the interests of a few people in the community. They are citing the recent moves by the Central Government to reduce the minimum age of consensual sex to 16. That is just a ploy to save some political leaders who are entangled in cases of raping minors. This is nothing less than child marriage and will only tarnish the image of the community as a whole. There should be strong opposition to such trends which will only help in taking Muslim Society many centuries backward. This community leaders should withdraw their comments and apologise to the people of Kerala,” said A. Seenath, another of the protesters.

 

#India – Narendra Modi conspired to instigate Hindus post Godhra


29 June 2013, agencies

 

MODI1 

Zakia Jafri‘s lawyer on Saturday alleged before a court here that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had conspired to instigate Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers and other members of Hindu community after the Godhra train burning incident in 2002.Ehsan Jafri, Zakia’s husband and former Congress MP, was one of those who were slain during the riots across Gujarat after the Godhra incident.Advocate Sanjay Parikh, Jafri’s lawyer, made the allegation during the argument before Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra. The court is hearing Jafri’s petition against closure report of Special Investigation Team which gave a clean chit to Modi and others in the face of the charge of complicity in the riots as levelled by Jafri in her complaint in 2008 before the Supreme Court.

“After the Godhra train burning incident, a large number of kar sevaks indulged in provocative slogan-shouting at Godhra railway station and the situation was tense…And what he (Modi) did was to call VHP Gujarat general secretary Jaideep Patel to go to Godhra and Patel instigated other VHP men and Hindus against Muslims. Therefore, Modi conspired with Jaideep Patel to instigate negative and aggressive feelings of RSS, VHP workers against Muslims,” advocate Parikh contended.

“Real conspiracy began with this instruction to Patel. He (Modi) is the chief executor of the conspiracy,” Parikh said, adding SIT failed to probe this aspect of the case.Jaideep Patel, with 81 others, is facing trial in Naroda Gaam case in which 11 people from the minority community were killed.Jafri’s `protest petition’ demands rejection of SIT report and seeks further investigation by an independent agency. Her complaint accuses Modi of being involved in the conspiracy behind wide-spread violence and misuse of the state machinery during the riots.

“There was no need for the Chief Minister to inform a VHP man and be in close contact with him, knowing fully well that after the Godhra incident, tensions may escalate and what was required was restraint and specific measures to strengthen the law and order situation,” Jafri’s lawyer said.”He, therefore, committed an omission in not discharging his duty. He in fact, by his conduct allowed communal tension to escalate,” advocate Parikh alleged, opposing SIT’s conclusion that no case was made out against Modi and others.

Inaction on Modi’s part amounted to conspiracy and abetment, the lawyer said.He further alleged the state government was aware of heavy mobilisation for Maha Yagna at Ayodhya and still did nothing to control the situation by making proper security arrangement.Parikh also submitted a copy of a statement, dated August 15, 2009, given by the then senior state minister Suresh Mehta to SIT.”As per Mehta’s statement, he was sitting next to Narendra Modi in the assembly on February 27, 2002 when Modi said `Hindus should wake up now’. This shows his mindset against Muslims and that he wanted targeted violence against that community,” Parikh alleged.The hearing would continue on July 3.

 

A Pakistani in Delhi


Farooq Sulehria
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
On January 6, I nervously landed at the Delhi airport. I say nervously because I wasn’t there as a tourist. I had gone to India as a researcher – to spend six months conducting research on the Indian media. As a Pakistani, I was uncertain if I’d be able to get my work done without being suspected of any other activities.

 

On reaching India, however, it did not take long to for my nervousness to dissipate. My Pakistani origin, I soon discovered, was not a disadvantage. On the contrary, my Pakistaniat was not only helping me achieve desired research goals, it also began to pose gastronomic challenges: in the form of endless dinner invitations.

 

That my arrival coincided with the alleged beheading of an Indian soldier at the LoC invoked an unknown fear within me. Four months later, Sarabjit’s murder terrified me as well for a while. A fear of the unknown would grip me even otherwise – particularly when alone or lonely. ‘Anything can go wrong and land me in trouble,’ was a thought constantly nagging at me. However, the hospitality extended by my Delhi friends and acquaintances would lay to rest all such fears. Most importantly, a sense of familiarity – at times transforming into a sense of belonging – hardly ever made me feel alien.

 

My language, skin colour, name, or religion – nothing is alien to Delhi. On the streets, people would stop by and ask for directions. In one incident, while at a metro station I had asked a person standing next to me: “Which line goes to Rajiv Chowk?” Ironically, I was standing right underneath a route-map, which happened to be in Hindi. Rather well dressed and holding a laptop, I hardly looked like the stereotypical unlettered person. The man I spoke to was perhaps in a bad mood. Pointing towards the map, he shouted, “Why don’t you read for yourself?”. “I am from Pakistan, can’t read Hindi”, I replied in Urdu. At which he apologised immediately, shook my hand and politely guided me.

 

The similarities were even stronger in the case of Punjabis and Muslims – even though I am neither Punjabi nor religious. For about four months, I lived in Malviya Nagar, a Punjabi neighbourhood. My Punjabi language skills invoked such an affinity that within weeks I had an udhar system working with two local grocery stores.

 

Everywhere in Delhi, one overhears the azaan. Is it that moezzins in Delhi recite the azaan in a highly melodic way. My Swedish-Pakistani friend Prof Ishtiaq helped me understand that the azaan is also an assertion of Indian plurality and rights of the Muslim there.

 

As if to appreciate this plurality, I would candidly discuss the Kashmir question as well as the situation of Indian Muslims with my non-Muslim friends and comrades. My interaction with Muslim and Kashmiri students at Jamia Millia Islamia, with which I was attached, helped me enrich my understanding of their situation. While Kashmiri students – infested with conspiracy theories – visualised Pakistan as an Islamic paradise, Indian Muslims have no such illusions about Pakistan even if, like any other Indian, they are concerned about the crises in our country.

 

Also, like any other religious community, Muslims are divided along ideological and sectarian as well as class and caste lines. Jamia Millia epitomises Muslim diversity as well as the cultural progress Indian Muslims have made.

 

Imagine a campus in Pakistan with statues of Mirza Ghalib and Maulana Jauhar. While the road to the Mir Taqi Mir Hall is dedicated to Manto, a beautifully built auditorium is attributed to Noam Chomsky. However, my favourite hang-out was the Castro Café surrounded by the M F Hussain Gallery and the Maulana Azad Hostel.

 

Beyond Jamia Millia, my favourite escape was Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Away from conservative Delhi, JNU’s walls – graffitied with huge images of Marx, Lenin, Che, Bhagat Singh and Manto – offer relief to any frustrated progressive. However, it is Faiz one finds all over the place. But Faiz and Manto are not confined to the JNU’s romantic campus. They are all over Delhi. In fact, Delhi it seems has become Urdu’s last refuge in the Subcontinent.

 

While the annual Jashn-e-Baharan Mushaira symbolised Delhi’s role in preserving Urdu, a qawali session during Khusro Week at the National Museum or an evening with dhrupad master Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar at the India International Centre (IIC) convinced me that Delhi is also protecting other forms of culture that Muslims have greatly contributed to.

 

There is a vibrant Urdu press and a flourishing publishing business. At the International Book Fair held in February at Pragati Maidan not merely offered a glimpse into Urdu publications, it was interesting to see an Ahmadiyya bookstore next to Tahirul Qadri’s Minhaj-ul-Quran bookstall. While Urdu press and publications promote a conservative agenda, progressive Muslim voices have found refuge in the recently-launched DD Urdu.

 

Visits to Doordarshan were always a great experience owing to the warmth shown by its Additional Director General, Ranjan Thakur. However, Faiz’s life-size portrait – surrounded by those of Gandhi jee and Tagore – at DD’s reception would add a special touch to every visit. Once a profitable enterprise, DD is now running huge financial losses. However, it remains committed to its social responsibility.

 

Apart from DD, the Indian television media is sensationalist. TRP-hungry channels have compromised themselves – journalistically and morally. Luckily, sections of the daily press, notably The Hindu and some magazines, haved stayed committed to the Indian tradition of quality journalism. Interestingly, India is the only major newspaper market that has expanded even after the arrival of the digital age.

 

But electronic media – the television – has outdone other outlets. The sprawling Noida Film City, on the outskirts of Delhi, is a testament to this growth. An enviably modern and efficient, though overcrowded, metro is the best way to reach Noida. Ironically, from metro station one can reach huge media houses via cycle-rickshaws. Initially, I tried to avoid using cycle-rickshaws pulled by skinny migrant workers from Bihar. But they were unavoidable as well as living proof of India’s ‘combined and uneven development’, a theory brilliantly propounded by Leon Trotsky.

 

Beyond glaring class contradictions, one also comes across sights that would be very familiar for a Pakistani. The traffic is messy; manholes are usually uncovered; and there is an utter neglect for monuments (with few exceptions) and old buildings. Apart from some posh areas, most streets are littered with garbage. While there may be no power cuts, there is a real water crisis.

 

Since my return on June 4, I have been quizzed by siblings and cousins, friends and acquaintances. ‘What do they think about us? Do they hate us?’ I am asked. ‘I do not know. However, I had wonderful time,’ is my standard reply. Honestly, such simple questions cannot be answered in a similarly simple manner. Also, I do not have any documented evidence to substantiate or deny any claims. I can only narrate my impressions. And I think Pakistan is not the most hated country in India. We could say that about perhaps Bangladesh or Afghanistan where Pakistan is disliked near-universally. However, I can safely assert that the only country where I have been warmly received as a Pakistani is India.

 

The writer is a freelance contributor.Email: mfsulehria@hotmail.com

source- http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-183118-A-Pakistani-in-Delhi

 

Gulail Expose – The Squad’s Fall Guys


The Maharashtra ATS persists with the prosecution of 13 innocent Muslims by keeping the evidence of their innocence from the court. Ashish Khetan exposes a sinister conspiracy of the men in uniform.Additional reporting by Thufail PT
Not one but two acts of terror visited us on July 11th 2006. The first was inflicted by those who planted seven deadly bombs on suburban trains in Mumbai, snuffing out 188 innocent lives. The second, invisible but equally insidious, was unleashed in its aftermath. It was those sworn to uphold the rule of law, to be fair and just who launched a systematic programme of Muslim persecution.In the name of combating terror, the Mumbai police and its specialized anti-terror squad (the ATS), tortured, humiliated and stripped at least twenty innocent Muslims of all their basic human rights. Their right to live with dignity, their right to be a Muslim, their right to earn an honest living—was mercilessly taken away in one fell swoop.

Waterboarding, administration of chemicals through veins and anus, giving electric shock to their private parts, sleep deprivation, threat of raping family members were among some of the techniques of coercion that were applied to extract false confessions.

In the course of its investigations Gulail is putting out internal documents running into hundreds of pages that exposes how the anti-terror agencies deliberately misled the Indian Courts, how material facts are being concealed from both the public and the judiciary and how different versions of the same terror plot are touted before different courts. Our expose establishes how the Maharashtra ATS selectively picked and chose from the revelations made in a subsequent terror investigation. This was done to retrospectively validate the bogus 7/11 train blasts investigation. These documents reveal how one version of a terror conspiracy was circulated for the internal consumption of the agencies and another for the judiciary.

This investigation by Gulail exposes the false implication of innocent and disempowered Muslims in crimes they never committed. It lays bare the sinister and elaborate conspiracy of the Maharashtra ATS of manufacturing bogus evidence, planting explosives in the houses of innocent accused and dressing up stoolpigeons as eyewitnesses.

It shows that the Maharashtra ATS’s investigation was guided by a deep rooted and extreme prejudice against the Muslims. Anyone with a past association with the student organization¬¬¬¬– Students Islamic Movement of India was automatically deemed a terror suspect. The act of publishing Islamic books was equated with sedition. To be a devout Muslim was seen as a sure sign of extremism. Gulail’sexpose shows that the ATS instead of carrying out a methodical, in-depth or scientific investigation opted for the easiest route. They went after the usual suspects. Anyone with a past, formal or informal, association with SIMI was hauled up to the police station and tortured. And as days went by without any leads or break-through and public pressure to show results grew, the ATS implicated a set of former SIMI members who had been kept in illegal detention since the blasts. This story lays bare the absolute farcical method of ATS investigation and utter contempt for the due process of law.

More significantly, Gulail puts the spotlight on a deep crisis brewing in our democracy. It is a crisis of a loss of faith in the ideals of justice and perhaps the very idea of a secular India. Every act of police brutality and false implication not just strikes at the rule of law. It also erodes the faith of our minorities in the capacity of this nation to dispense equal justice and to live by the promise made by our founding fathers. This story exposes the deep rot that has set in in our system, one that first condones and then resolutely fails to take any kind of corrective action.

For the last seven years thirteen innocent Muslims are facing a farcical trial in the Mumbai train bombings. A good portion of their life has been spent behind the bars, their families have been forced to live a life of deprivation and hardships and their future and the future of their children has been cast with a permanent shadow.

Gulail is putting out in the public domain the testimonies of unspeakable torture and humiliation of members of the minority community at the hands of the ATS. These Muslims were tortured to extract false confessions of their involvement in the train blast case. Under the draconian law of MCOCA, confessions made before the police are admissible in court. As soon as these accused were sent to judicial custody, they all retracted their confessions, exposing the coercive tactics of the ATS.

All this material amounts to compelling evidence of the deliberate faking of evidence as well as the most inhuman torture of innocent Muslims in police custody to pervert the course of justice.  We hope that these revelations would shock the conscience of those occupying the highest echelons in the judiciary and the government.

In keeping with its promise of fighting against injustice and inequities not only in the public space but also in the courts, Gulail has filed a letter petition in the Bombay High Court and before statutory bodies like the National Human Rights Commission and the National Minorities Commission.

The Usual Suspects
The July 2006 train blasts were the biggest terror strikes in India after the 1993 Bombay blasts. Seven synchronized bombs claimed around 190 lives—an indication of an extremely sophisticated and elaborate conspiracy. So how did the Mumbai police go about the investigation? Did they turn to sophisticated investigative techniques. No, what they did do was haul up the usual suspects, that is, the ex-members or sympathizers of the SIMI to the police station and began interrogating them. These were the same people whom the police had been surveilling for the last 5 years since the ban on the SIMI. They became a familiar sight, hauled into the police station every time there was a bomb explosion in the city. In other words a lazy and malicious police machinery presumed those constantly under their radar to be suspects.Eventually 13 innocent Muslims were oimplicated in the blasts case on the basis of confessions made before police officers.

Take the case of 30-year old (age at the time of his arrest) Abdul Wahid Sheikh who was a teacher at Anjuman Islam AbdusSattarSaheb High School, MaulanaShaukat Ali Road, Mumbai. In 2001 when the SIMI was banned, the Mumbai police had registered a case against Wahid and dozens of other Muslim youth from Mumbai for being members of the banned organization.  Since 2001 the Mumbai police had been following the policy of hauling SIMI members to the police station every time there was a bomb explosion in the city. Since 2001 like other alleged SIMI members Wahid was permanently on the police radar. He was interrogated on multiple occasions after a series of blasts at Ghatkopar, Mulund and Vile Parle in 2002-2003 and the Gateway of India Blasts, 2003. Similarly, after the 7/11 blasts Wahid was detained at the ATS police stations. The ATS finally arrested him under the claim that he had been absconding since the train blasts.  During the trial evidence has now emerged of police station diary entries showing his presence on multiple occasions at different police stations after the train blasts.

Similarly,Dr Tanveer Ansari, a BUMS doctor was working as a specialist in emergency procedures at Fauzia Nursing Home in Nagpada, Mumbai. In 2001, Tanveer had participated in the medical relief work carried out by the SIMI in Bhuj in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake.  In 2001, when the SIMI was banned, Tanveer was also arrested, accused of being a member of the SIMI. Like other associates of the SIMI, Tanveer too became a usual suspect, questioned multiple times in the aftermath of the bomb explosions. Post 7/11, after some rounds of questioning, Tanveer was illegally detained and finally arrested.
The story of the other eleven accused is more or less similar, except that some of them had absolutely no linkage with the SIMI. Still they were implicated since the ATS needed an array of characters for the fanciful story they had scripted.
The Call Data Records of the cell phones owned by these men have now revealed that they were not even present at the blast site.

Torture and Coercion 
Out of the nine 7/11 accused who were interviewed by Gulail, eight gave a detailed description of the unspeakable torture they were subjected to in police custody (all 13 accused have been behind bars for the past seven years, these interviews were obtained by Gulail with great difficulty in court corridors. Gulail couldn’t speak with the ninth accused MuzammilShaikh in detail as the police escort stopped us from interacting with him).
1
Kala Chowki branch of the ATS was the designated torture chamber. Besides inspectors and constables, senior IPS officers like AN Roy, Naval Bajaj and Jaijeet Singh also participated in torturing these men.

Waterboarding.
The extremely barbaric technique of torture used by the CIA on Guantanamo Bay detainees was used by the ATS on these 13 innocent Muslims. The accused used to be tied to a handcart with their feet up. Their faces were then covered with a piece of cloth and water was poured onto their faces so that they felt like they were drowning.

Narco-analysis in police custody
Many of these men while they were in police custody were also administered chemicals through their veins that was meant to make them unconscious and was supposedly meant to extract information. These narco-analysis tests were carried out in police custody without any medical supervision or court permission. These illegal narco tests were done in addition to the narco-analysis that was done on many of these men with court permission at the FSL, Bangalore facility.

Some of the other techniques of torture that were used:

  1. 180 degree stretching of legs
  2. Electric shock to private parts
  3. Beating with shoes and belts
  4. Chinese water torture: Victims head was fixed to a spot

 

Manufacturing bogus Evidence

The evidence lead in the charge-sheet was of three kinds:-11 MCOCA confessions made to police officers; recoveries of explosives and detonators from some of the accused and  so-called public witnesses (well known stool pigeons or those  under the thumb of the police)  who claimed the unlikely feat of recognising the faces of some of the  accused while getting in and out from the local train though they were strangers to them. However, against most of the accused, the case is based on confessions and recoveries.

Gulail’s investigation reveals the circumstances under which these accused were compelled to sign onto pre-drafted confessions. Some accused agreed to sign under extreme physical pain. But there were some who refused to give in. These men were then told that their wives, sisters and mothers would be raped in front of their eyes and their brothers and father would also be implicated. Faisal Shaikh’s 70-year old father was made to march naked in front of his son. The ATS finally got what they wanted. These men too gave in.
The ATS extracted 11 confessions on the strength of which they filed the chargesheet in the first week of December 2006.  Since then all 13 men have been in jail.


The crackdown on the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ and arrest of Sadiq Sheikh.

In August and September 2008, there were serial blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Surat.  Following some leads in these blasts, the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested one Sadiq Sheikh along with 20 other accused from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

Subsequent to the arrests, the Mumbai Crime Branch claimed to have recorded confessions of more than 10-12 persons including SadiqShaikh, as this was also a MCOCA investigation.
This was a crucial juncture in the terror investigations in India. In a span of a little over one year between August 2007 and September 2008, there were terror bombings in Bangalore (seven serial blasts of July 2008), Hyderabad (Lumbini Park and GokulChaat Blasts of August 2007), UP (triple blasts at Court premises in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, November 2007), Jaipur (serial blasts of May 2008), Ahmedabad (21 serial blasts in July 2008) and Surat  (aborted attempt as eighteen bombs malfunctioned) and Delhi (five synchronized bomb blasts in market places of Delhi in September 2008). The series of bombings across India hinted at a single, integral terror conspiracy and brought several investigating agencies of different states together and consequent pooling of information.

Evidence emerges that 7/11 was not done by the 13 men originally arrested

Thus, the confessions of Sadiq Sheikh and others as recorded by the Mumbai Crime Branch, are significant, because they clearly point to the fact that even the July Mumbai local train bombings of 2006 were done by this set of people newly arrested and without any reference or link to those prosecuted by the ATS from 2006 onwards!

In other words the set of men arrested following the 2007 and 2008 set of bombings across the country were interrogated by Ahmedabad, Delhi, UP, Karnataka and other police teams and were subsequently made common accused in all these 2007-2008 blasts.
Sadiq Sheikh and his alleged ‘Indian Mujahideen’ accomplices were interrogated by different police agencies on different dates. Each agency prepared detailed Interrogation Reports (IRs). Common to all is the view or conclusion that it is this set of men that were behind even the July 2006 Mumbai local train bombings.

Gulail obtains internal documents of over half a dozen agencies that show the 13 train blast accused are innocent.

Our sources in the Mumbai police and state police agencies of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka who were involved in investigating ‘Indian Mujahideen’ and its alleged involvement in the 2007 and 2008 blasts provided us the Interrogation Reports of Sadiq Sheikh and others prepared by each of these agencies (All these interrogation reports are uploaded on the website). These Interrogation Reports show the dates on which they were prepared and the computers on which they were prepared.

All these Interrogation Reports (IRs) based on ‘confessions’ record a massive and integral conspiracy. These IRs contain a meticulously detailed description of more than eight terror strikes that Sadiq Sheikh and his accomplices had plotted and executed since 2003:These are
1. DashashwamedhGhat, Varanasi, 2004 (the bomb packed in a container had failed to explode. The local police dismissed it as an accident. But Sadiq told the police that it was actually a terror plot)
2. Shramjeevi Express Blast,Jaunpur, UP, 2005
3. Diwali Blasts, Delhi, 2005
4. Varanasi Blasts, 2006
5. Mumbai Train Blasts, 2006
6. Hyderabad Twin Blasts (Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park), 2007
7. Ahmedabad Serial Blasts and the failed Surat Blasts.


Agencies accept Sadiq’s revelations in cases that were yet to be solved

The agencies have themselves claimed (both in court and in public) that Sadiq’s interrogation led to the arrest of over 70 terror suspects by UP ATS, Hyderabad CIC, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Rajasthan ATS and Delhi Special Cell.

The content of these reports, and  ‘confessions’ etc is part of the charge-sheetSadiq and his accomplices in the alleged oufitnamed Indian Mujahideen were charge-sheeted in all those blast cases in which the investigation was still not completed. Hyderabad Blasts (Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park) of 2007, Ahmedabad and Surat (aborted) Blasts of 2008, Delhi Blasts of 2008 were some of the cases in which the alleged Indian Mujahideen members including SadiqShaikh were charge-sheeted.
At the same time all of them were equally aware that an entirely different set of persons had been put on trial for the same by the Maharashtra ATS.

But those parts of Sadiq’s revelations that go contrary to previous investigations are brushed under the carpet.

Now either Sadiq and his accomplices were responsible for 7/11 bombings or those 13 men who were originally arrested. But the agencies accepted and further corroborated only those of Sadiq’s revelations that related to the investigations in which the accused had still not been identified and arrested by the respective agencies. But revelations pertaining to blasts like 7/11 that went contrary to the police theory were conveniently ignored.

Can in a country governed by rule of law this policy of pick and choose followed by the agencies in the offences punishable with death penalty be condoned?

Thus at least after 2008 September, all the said agencies including ATS Maharashtra were privy to the nature of evidence and revelations pertaining to the July 11, 2006 train bombings and they relied heavily on these revelations in the investigations pertaining to the 2007-2008 bombings. But those revelations that related to the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts were conveniently brushed under the carpet.

The lack of bonafides is evident from the fact that no attempt was made to arrive at the truth or exonerate one set of obviously innocent persons.

But none of these agencies placed the entire relevant material before the MCOCA court trying an entirely unconnected set of 13 men for this very act. Why?

Our intent is not to pass a verdict of guilt against certain accused. But it is only to highlight the blatant discrepancies and contradictions in terror investigations. Evidence that suits a police case is considered credible and evidence that debunks bogus investigations is hidden both from the courts and public view.

HOW THE ATS MISLEAD THE 7/11 MUMBAI COURT

More here- http://www.gulail.com/squads-fall-story.html

 

Two child limit imposed on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya #Vaw #WTFnews


New measure, which applies to Muslim Rohingya families in western Rakhine state, does not affect Buddhists in the area.
Last Modified: 25 May 2013 14:34
Authorities in Myanmar‘s western Rakhine state have imposed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families, a policy that does not apply to Buddhists in the area, and comes amid accusations of ethnic cleansing in the aftermath of sectarian violence.

Local officials said on Saturday that the new measure would be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim populations in the state.

The townships, Buthidaung and Maundaw, are about 95 percent Muslim.

The unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group, and is likely to fuel further criticism that Muslims are being discriminated against in the Buddhist-majority country.

China has a one-child policy, but it is not based on religion and exceptions apply to minority ethnic groups.

India briefly practised forced sterilisation of men in a bid to control the population in the mid-1970s when civil liberties were suspended during a period of emergency rule, but a nationwide outcry quickly shut down the programme.

‘Overpopulation causes tension’

Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said the new programme was meant to stem rapid population growth in the Muslim community, which a government-appointed commission identified as one of the causes of the sectarian violence.

Although Muslims are the majority in the two townships in which the new policy applies, they account for only about 4 percent of Myanmar’s roughly 60 million people.

The measure was enacted a week ago after the commission recommended family planning programs to stem population growth among Muslims, Win Myaing said.

The commission also recommended doubling the number of security forces in the volatile region.

“The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists),” Win Myaing said. “Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.”

Sectarian violence in Myanmar first flared nearly a year ago in Rakhine state between the region’s Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.

Mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razed thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds of people dead and forcing 125,000 to flee, mostly Muslims.

Witnesses and human rights groups said riot police stood by as crowds attacked Muslims and burned their villages.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused authorities in Rakhine of fomenting an organised campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya.

 

Two Faced Subramaniam Swamy #Hatespeech


Mr. Subramanian Swamy‘s Venom spitting speech

 

Mr. Subramanian Swamy’s wife is a PARSI, his daughter married to a MUSLIM, another member married a CHRISTIAN, and another married to a JEW. Why then is he threatening both Muslims and Christians.

Please listen his venom spiting speech :

 

 

#RIP- Brave Peace Fighter who risked his life to save innocent muslims ,Someshwar Pandya, Sardarpura


Someshwar Pandya who risked his life to save poor and innocent Muslims from the murderous mobs of Patels at Sardarpura on 1.3.2002 passed away this morning. He also suffered a physical attack when he went to testify, to tell the Truth…

Pandya lost an eye and suffered grievous injury at the hands of people determined to prevent him from deposing before the Nanavati Commission.

Besna is on Friday May 24

http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/aug/06spec.htm

Down, but not Out!
Someshwar Pandya still wants to tell
the truth!

Last updated on: August 06, 2003 23:46 IST
Justice A S Anand, former Chief Justice of India [ Images ] and National Human Rights Commission Chairman, does not need to look far to justify his request to the Supreme Court to transfer the hearing of communal riots cases out of Gujarat.

The Supreme Court may want to consider Someshwar Pandya’s case.

Pandya lost an eye and suffered grievous injury at the hands of people determined to prevent him from deposing before the Nanavati Commission. It is a case where the communal violence that pitted Hindus against Muslims in Gujarat last year is now turning into a caste conflict, where liberal Hindus are being targeted for standing up against communal forces.

Someshwar Pandya is bed-ridden these days. The 65 year old was brutally attacked by hoodlums who wanted to defeat him in his purpose. But that is not easy. Someshwar Pandya may be down, but he is not out.He still wants to testify before the Nanavati Commission about the communal riots in Sardarpur, a small town near Mehsana, north Gujarat. The violence claimed 38 Muslim lives.

And there are many who do not want him to testify.A year ago, thugs attacked Pandya savagely. He survived, but lost an eye and suffered multiple fractures.

Pandya’s story began on March 1, 2002, a day when Sardarpur saw its worst communal riots. A huge mob surrounded a Muslim area and set it afire, killing 38 people. Pandya saw what happened. Sardarpur is among the four worst riot cases in Gujarat. The other three are the Naroda-Patiya killings, near Ahmedabad [ Images ], that claimed 89 lives; the Gulberg Society killings that claimed 42 lives in Ahmedabad, including that of former MP Ehsan Jafri; and the Best Bakery case in Vadodara that claimed 14 lives.

According to political analyst Achyut Yagnik, “Of all these cases, the process of justice is most weak in the Sardarpur case because the accused and victims are clearly divided on political and caste lines. That makes it difficult for the Muslim victims.” The investigation into the Sardarpur killings has been shabby. A K Sharma, the Superintendent of Police during the investigation, is considered close to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [ Images]. During the Gujarat assembly election last December, the Election Commission shifted Sharma to another area.

Thirty-two people have been accused of the killing. The prime accused hail from Gujarat’s dominant Patel caste. The accused are currently out on bail. The fear is that the accused and/or their supporters will prevent witnesses from taking the stand before the Nanavati Commission.

Pandya is a leader of the Dalit community and a member of the Congress party. His neighbour Laxmanbhai recalls that the men who attacked Pandya did so without fear of being caught. The assailants attacked Pandya when he was sitting in the marketplace, reading a newspaper. He sustained more than 10 fractures and lost an eye.

His son Pravin, an unemployed labourer, told rediff.com, “My father helped the Muslims file a case against the Patels. He was punished for helping them. Goons from the neighbouring town attacked him.” Ashok Shrimali, a relative of Pandya and a social worker, alleged, “It’s jungle raj here. The police is not playing a neutral role. Thanks to the hawkers in the bazaar his (Pandya’s) life was saved.”

The Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, consisting of Justices G T Nanavati and K G Shah, has not yet held an inquiry into the Sardarpur case, but will start hearings soon. Besides the post-Godhra situation, there were other factors for the antipathy to Muslims in Sardarpur. The village, which over the years has traditionally supported the Congress, boasts a large population of Muslims with cultivable land, something not common in Gujarat. In much of Gujarat, the most fertile land is held by the Patidar caste (most of who bear the surname Patel) while the Dalits and Muslims work as labourers on the farms.

Moreover, most of the Dalits in Sardarpur are reasonably educated and began to challenge the Patel hegemony after  1981. Before 1980, Dalits were not allowed to conduct marriage processions while Dalit women in the village bazaar had to cover their heads. Pandya and other Dalits, with support from Muslims and the Congress party, defied such diktats, something that did not go down well with the Patels.

The caste cleavage acquired political affiliations with the Dalits and Muslims backing the Congress while the Patels veered towards the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ].

There is also an element of greed. In Sardarpur, most Muslims live in the heart of the town, in Darbargadh.  The real estate value of this area has shot up over the years, with many others eyeing it.

On March 1, 2002, when mobs attacked the Muslims, they encircled the entire area to prevent anyone from escaping the violence. A few Muslims sneaked into neighbouring Indira Garibnagar, where mostly Dalits live. The Dalits sheltered the Muslims.After the riots, when many Muslims fled Darbargadh and lived in camps, land sharks began to pressurize the Muslim residents not to return.

“A BJP leader visits Darbargadh often and tells the Muslims to sell their land,” claims Ashok Shrimali.Another villager said many Muslims have not been allowed to return to their farmland.

The atmosphere in Sardarpur is so communally charged that no Hindu lawyer was willing to take up the Muslims’ case, compelling the community to get a Muslim lawyer from another state. This lawyer has been given little support from the local police in marshalling his evidence.After the March 1, 2002, killings, Pandya went to the Vijapur police station nearby to file the First Information Report about the killing of 38 Muslims. Some people tried to stop him from doing so. “Uncle has said he will tell the Commission what he saw on March 1,” says Pandya’s relative Ashok Shrimali.Pandya was unavailable for comment as he is traveling for medical treatment.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1611465/report-2002-gujarat-riots-he-saved-100-lives-in-sardarpura

2002 Gujarat riots: He saved 100 lives in Sardarpura

Saturday, Nov 12, 2011, 15:40 IST | Place: Sardarpura | Agency: DNA

Someshwar Pandya, 78, who was deputy sarpanch of Sardarpura at the time of the 2002 riots, played a major role in saving at least 100 lives.

“I sat at the main market of the village everyday. Even when the mob burnt shops of Muslim traders a day after the Godhra carnage, I watched from afar,” relates Someshwar Pandya, 78, who was deputy sarpanch of Sardarpura at the time of the 2002 riots. Pandya, who now walks with a stick, played a major role in saving at least 100 lives. “I was not physically strong to save anybody by fighting with the angry mob. I was nearly 69 at that time. The mob was so angry that it was impossible to stop it or try to make the people understand right from wrong. If I had tried to stop anybody, I might have become their prey,” said Pandya recalling the black day of Sardarpura’s history.

Apart from the Shaikh community, other Muslim communities like Pathans, Memans and Mansuris also lived in the village. However, after the Shaikh Vas was destroyed on March 1, 2002, Memans and Mansuris left Sardarpura. Pathans are still living in the village. “There were around 150 families of Memans and Mansuris, but now they have left the village. Pandya saved lives of many people of these communities,” said Munsafkhan Pathan, witness of the riots in Sardarpura.

While the mob was moving around in the village, most of the members of those communities took refuge in Harijan Vas. Pandya, who belongs to a scheduled caste, was present there. “While the people gathered around the Vas, I was present there. Seeing me at the place, the mob dispersed fearing that I would become a witness to their actions.”

However, Pandya had to pay the price of his left eye, as he was also attacked later by the mob. “They attacked me and I lost eyesight in one eye because of injury.”But like many of the villagers of his age in Sardarpura, Pandya wants to forget everything and start afresh with communal harmony.  He said, “Now I don’t want to remember all those wounds, which are healing with time.”

http://teestasetalvad.blogspot.in/2012/03/insaf-ki-dagar-par-on-path-of-justice.html

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Insaf Ki Dagar Par (On the Path of Justice)

by Dr Bindu Desai

 

Insaf Ki Dagar Par (On the Path of Justice)

Recalling the pogrom in Gujarat, February 2012

 

February 27th marked the tenth anniversary of the horrific events that followed the terrible fire in a train compartment near Godhra. The fire resulted in the tragic death of 59 ‘kar sevaks’, more than 100 were injured. They were returning from Ayodhya as part of a campaign to build a temple dedicated to Ram on the site where previously a Masjid had existed. In the next few days and weeks Gujarat witnessed carnage where thousands of individuals, mainly Muslim, were murdered, raped, looted, displaced, their homes ransacked, livelihood destroyed.

 

A number of organizations planned a Memorial for February 27th in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Malegaon, Aligarh, Calicut, Delhi and Ayodhya-Faizabad. Teesta Setalvad asked me if I would attend the one at the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad, where 68 people were murdered, their bodies allowed to smoulder for days. 28 are still listed as ‘missing’. I felt it a privilege to be part of such a memorial service. So come February 27th morning I left for Ahmedabad by the Shatabdi Express. Approaching the road on which Gulberg Society is located I could see the building from afar. I got down at a gate which was guarded by two policemen; they directed me to the main gate where some 30 policemen, a few with automatic weapons guns, stood by. A thought flashed through me: if only they had been there a decade ago and done their duty Gulberg Society would be peopled and full of life.

 

The society is L shaped. At the short arm of the L is a small bungalow. The long arm has a central path with many cottages on either side and two high rises of 3 stories. The central path was filled with people; many had come from villages affected by the pogrom. Their presence made the place appear less sinister. There were children whose energy was a refreshing balm to the somber reality of empty buildings, shattered windows and walls with burn marks.

Teesta was busy arranging events; I waved to her and embraced her. “Kem Che Deekra” I asked? She guided me to tables where I could leave my travel bag. I was keen to change into a sari, as I had worn a pair of slacks and a kurta for the train journey. I had a sari with me and had earlier inquired if I could change into it at the site. A Sayra Sandhi led me to the only room that afforded a bit of privacy. The police made way for us; one even carried my overnight case to the verandah. So helpful today when 10 years ago several of their colleagues had led the 20,000 strong mob into Gulberg and watched idly while acts of infamy were carried out, ah, police obey orders do they not? Sayra was dressed in a Gujrati style sari. As I introduced myself and told her I was a friend of Teesta’s, she said matter of factly:”Teestaben works very hard for us. My son died here”. Later I learnt that her brother-in-law, her sister-in-law, her niece were among those murdered.

The presence of loss was everywhere; neither the bright shining sun nor the exuberant bougainvillea could overcome this feeling. I sat in the shade and tried to absorb the reality of the place. No photograph captures the enduring sadness; the sheer inability to accept that in such a solid, pleasant airy place on a bustling road of a great city, scores of people could be burnt alive. My mind refused to accept that this could happen, and yet it did. Highly inflammable chemicals were used, the killing preplanned with precision. I looked up at shattered windows, empty doorways and overgrown grass.

There being numerous events recalling the carnage making for a long day, the organizers had provided everything one would need for the long day: Cold water jugs every 30 to 50 feet, bottles of water, endless cups of tea. The families of some survivors had cooked fresh snacks and sweets for those who had come to share their sorrow. Later in the evening 4 rounds of “dhoop” were carried through the grounds to ward off mosquitoes and insects. There were quite a lot of persons from the media, press and TV.

 

A statement was issued by Retired Mumbai High Court Judge Hosbet Suresh who had been one of 8 distinguished jurists, academics and activists forming the Concerned Citizen’s Tribunal that had investigated the Gujarat carnage in 2002. Teesta introduced me to the Justice. Clad in a Khadi kurta-pyjama one could not help being impressed by his down to earth-ness and transparent simplicity. He had spent 2 weeks in Gujarat for the Tribunal and felt that there could be no moving on till the wheels of Justice brought those responsible for these crimes to answer for their horrific deeds.

I was pleasantly surprised to meet Valjibhai Patel, a respected Dalit leader who I had met 2 decades ago. He told me that generally in a conflagration against Muslims he was able to save lives, here he said he was not able to, the police themselves had encouraged the mobs. He recounted the courage and bravery of a Dalit Someshwar Pandya who had managed to save 100 of 133 in Sardarpura and who was later beaten by BJP goons and lost an eye. Valjibhai was critical of the media which he characterized as irresponsible, at times publishing outright untruths. Taking action against the media is a tortuous process requiring a Police Inspector to agree that lies have been published, he explained. A Police Inspector, who agreed and moved the Government to take action, was transferred, the replacement said there was no case worth pursuing and the matter was dropped. Valjibhai looked fit and full of zest to continue his lifelong pursuit of justice and fairness for those marginalized and oppressed.

 

I met Trupti Shah and Rohit Prajapati, activists from Vadodara who had been involved in seeking justice for the many victims of this pogrom in their home city. Mallika Sarabhai came to affirm her solidarity with the victims. I went around the society and was shaken by what I saw. On a wall hung photographs of those killed, to name a few: Azar Dara Modi, whose family was at the site today, and who would have been 24 this year and upon whom the film Parzania is based; Ehsan Jafri, a former MP who was murdered most brutally whose widow, son and daughter were there; photos of Sayra’s family Mohammedhusen Salimbhai Sandhi, Jahangirbhai Noormohammed Sandhi. What tore at one’s heart was their faces, full of hope for what life might hold for them, hardest to bear with were those of children and babies….There were blanks for those missing or those whose family did not possess a photo of their loved one.

The building where Ehsan Jafri lived was visited by many to pay homage to the scores who perished in it. They had come seeking shelter and thinking his previous high office, as he was a former Member of Parliament, might offer protection. Nearby a toran fluttered with rectangular strips of paper on which people had written what they wished for, most wished for justice.

 

Close relatives addressed those present, among them Dara and Rupa Modi. It was difficult to hold back tears as individuals recounted how neighbours had turned against them. The afternoon sun gradually sank below the horizon. Suresh Mehta, former BJP Chief Minister came , saying it was his duty to come. A decade ago emotions had been allowed to rule, what had happened was wrong , he went on. I was honoured to meet R B Sreekumar, former Director General of Police(DGP) and at the time of the massacres Additional(Addl) DGP Intelligence Branch(IB). He has testified in detail, over 1000 pages he told me, of how the Modi government colluded in and encouraged the long reign of terror unleashed upon the Muslims of Gujarat. To meet Sreekumar was to meet a genuine hero. A man of dignity, forthright and taking his duties seriously, he invited the ire of the Chief Minister (CM) of Gujarat Narendra Modi. Sreekumar was transferred from Addl DGP IB to Police Reform, where as our police are so conscientious there was not much for him to do! Deprived of his pension on retirement he took the Gujarat Government to court and won his pension and his promotion to DGP. Sreekumar, very simply said his loyalty was to the Government of India and to the office of the Chief Minister, not to the person who happened to be CM. He felt those IAS and IPS officers who surround Modi nowadays are so afraid of him that they indulge in ‘anticipatory sycophancy’! How glad one is that Sreekumar is as upright as he is, how much better India would be if there were countless officials like him. His wife Rajlakshmi who sat next to him was unassuming and when I asked how she managed when they had no pension for 2 years, she smiled and said ‘I have to support Sreekumar; Teesta helped us with getting good lawyers to fight our case’.

 

Dusk saw the arrangements being made for Shubha Mudgal’s concert. I thought I should have a small snack as I expected to be at Gulberg till late at night and went to see where they were being distributed. I could not find the table and decided I would do without it. After a few minutes I saw a gentleman approach the empty chair near me with a plate of snacks in his hand. I asked him where he had got it. He replied “I’ll get you a plate if you hold this magazine for me.” I did so, he returned and sat on the chair beside me. I leaned over to introduce myself and shake his hand. “I am Bindu Desai” I said, “I am Tanvir Jafri” he replied, I gripped his hand strongly, lowered my eyes and winced. He nodded implying that he understood I was trying to convey how deeply I regretted what had been done to his family. We were silent for a few minutes. He now lives with his mother Zakia in Surat. “I cannot live in Ahmedabad now” he said in a soft voice. His sister Nishrin who lives in the USA came by and remarked how good it was for her mother to have so many survivors come and sit by her and talk to her. One marvels at how this family can maintain their equanimity after the gruesome way in which their father Ehsan Jafri was killed.

 

Shiv Vishwanathan, who had written the latest issue of Communalism Combat: 2002-2012: The Gujarat Genocide TEN YEARS LATER, was as he has been in his writings witty, scholarly and deeply committed to getting Justice for the victims. Shiv and his students provided the audio-visual back up for the meet. The stage for Shubha Mudgal was ready on the terrace of the L end of Gulberg Society. Candles were lit by young and old and their flickering light reminded me of Mahatma Gandhi’s words:

“In the midst of darkness light persists,

In the midst of untruth truth persists

I n the midst of death life persists,”

 

Tridip Suhrud introduced Shubha Mudgal and her words before the concert set the tone for what followed. Shubha first acknowledged her accompanying musicians Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla, Sudhir Nayak on the harmonium. She began by apologizing for coming so late to the struggle for Justice and said that what she would sing today was not an entertainment but a tribute and a recall of what religion and a citizen’s sense of security should be. Her voice rang through the air, the crescent moon and an occasional star shining down, witness to our crimes, perhaps wondering how a decade later such an exquisite voice could fill the air of so sad a place. She sang of Mazhab as love, of, an individual perplexed at being singled out by fate, of the gnawing pain and grief of losing loved ones…..

I have been to Hiroshima and Auschwitz. Both conveyed their own particular horror and unsettling and painful as they were, Gulberg society was wrenching. Though the US has never meaningfully apologized for its barbaric acts, Germany has admitted its crimes and provided reparation. Official Gujarat has shown no remorse, the larger society has reelected the instigator twice and admires him. But a decade later the struggle goes on. It is awesome to behold the determination of 540 witnesses, a lot of them women, who have been given armed protection ordered by the Supreme Court of India, not to give up, to pursue the matter diligently and persistently till those guilty are punished for their crimes. The overwhelming force that drives them is to ensure that other sisters, widows and mothers do not have to endure what they have had to.

 

Over 3000 thousand people had come to Gulberg Society to pay their respects to the dead and missing and to offer such comfort as they might to those whose grief is bottomless.

May Justice be done and soon.

 

When the majority in the motherland flexes muscle over a song


Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:30 IST | Agency: DNA

The sight of an MP slowly walking out of Parliament while the entire House stood in respect for Vande Mataram, will be difficult to forget. Yet, the BSP’s Shafiqur Rahman Barq was simply exercising his rights. The fundamental duties added to the constitution during the emergency, ask us to respect only the national flag and anthem. At any rate, they are not legally enforceable. Our supreme court had held way back in 1986 that conscientious objectors were free not to sing the national anthem, while not showing disrespect to it.

Many people believe that Jana Gana Mana was written in praise of King George V, even though Rabindranath Tagore rejected that allegation convincingly. Earlier, when it used to be played at the end of a movie, such people would walk out, joining many others who felt it a waste of time to stay back for the national anthem.

The debate over Vande Mataram is more complicated. Originally, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s composition comprised only the 14 lines which are today the text of the national song. In 1881, he expanded it into a hymn to goddess Durga, and made it part of his anti-Muslim novel Anand Math.

Till the 1930s, everyone, Hindu or Muslim, sang it with fervour.  In fact, the Vande Mataram flag also had the Islamic crescent and star on it. But as objections to it grew from Muslims within the Congress and outside, Congress heavyweights Nehru, Azad, Bose and Acharya Narendra Dev, decided in 1937 that the original two stanzas were not only unobjectionable, but had developed an identity of their own in the freedom movement.

However, singing them would not be mandatory at Congress sessions.

In the choice for national anthem, Jana Gana Mana won, but with its inspirational history, Vande Mataram became the national song. I have heard freedom fighters sing its first few lines right till their old age, remembering the slogan they shouted as they held up the tricolour in defiance and courted arrest.

The real problem with Vande Mataram is its co-option first by the Hindu Mahasabha, then by the RSS and its allies, none of whom had played any role in the freedom struggle. The slogan ‘Is desh mein rahna hoga to Vande Mataram kahna hoga’ is still used to browbeat Muslims. It took a judge of the stature of Justice BN Srikrishna to declare in court, during the hearings of his inquiry into the 92-93 Mumbai riots, that laying down conditions of residence on any citizen, let alone a community, by another group was not just communal but also fascist.

But much before 92-93, Mumbaikars were losing lives over Vande Mataram. In 1973, the Muslim League objected to the Shiv Sena’s decision to make its singing compulsory in Municipal Corporation meetings. Sena-League riots followed in which five persons died.

But a few months later, the “patriotic’’ Sena thought nothing of taking the help of “traitors” to get its candidate elected as Mayor. Bal Thackeray and GM Banatwala, head of the League, led Sudhir Joshi’s victory procession together.

Vande Mataram has a deep historical link with Mumbai. The first time it was sung from a political platform was in 1896 by Rabindranath Tagore in the Congress’ Kolkata session.

The president of the session was Mumbai lawyer Rahimatullah Sayani.

Muslim intellectuals of this city, such as Rafiq Zakaria and Sajid Rashid (both deceased), Asghar Ali Engineer and Syed Feroze Ashraf,  have often stated that there’s nothing wrong in singing Vande Mataram — out of choice. Forcing them to do so — or not to — won’t do.

The author is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.