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What has religion to do with Terrorist Violence?

Post from India What has religion to do with Terrorist Violence? Ram Puniyani After the ghastly tragedy of 9/11 2001, in which nearly three thousand innocent people died, American media coined a new phrase ‘Islamic Terrorism’. This was the first time the terrorist act and terrorists got the prefix of religion. The global media picked it up and some communal …

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Swami Aseemanand Acquitted!

Seeing the pattern of justice delivery system of India currently it seems getting justice, punishing the guilty is not easy. The judgments come as an outcome of the evidence produced by the executive, police in front of the magistrates. The attitude of the ruling dispensation matters a lot in matters of the crimes related to the ideology being propounded and defended by the ruling party. Sometimes the assertion and strength of the ideologies, which are dominant but not in power also influence the delivery of justice. Times and over again this cruel fact has been staring at our face. In Mumbai violence of 1992-93 nearly one thousand persons was done to death, not too many convictions took place related to the heinous crimes committed during this carnage. In the aftermath of this carnage the bomb blasts took place, orchestrated by the underworld . In these blasts nearly two hundred people died. In these cases some have been hanged to death for the crime, many have got life imprisonment and many others got other punishments. This is what should happen in a democracy. The most glaring case has been the contrast between Rubina Memon who is in prison for life for being the formal owner of the car which was used In Mumbai blasts, while Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, whose motor cycle was used for Malegaon blast got the bail. All this comes to one’s mind yet again when the NIA Court has acquitted Swami Aseemanand in case of Samjhauta Express blast in which 68 people (43 of them from Pakistan) died. Incidentally Swami was granted bail in the Mecca Masjid blast case earlier and the factors influencing justice delivery became obvious as the main file, a key document containing the disclosure by Aseemanand, went missing from the Court’s custody. With this the question comes up who is responsible for the death of those 68 people, as usual it seems nobody did the blast leading to Samjhauta express tragedy! What we are witnessing is a sustained effort to undermine the process of justice in pursuit of sectarian nationalism.

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New Zealand Massacre: ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis Stalks the World!

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The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15th March, Friday 2019 has shaken the World. The killer, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, is an Australian citizen. Nearly 50 People died in the attack as two mosques were attacked. Those killed include nine from India. Tarrant had fixed the camera on his head so as to live stream the massacre. What prompted him to undertake this violence was his ideology which holds that today Europe is facing the threat of Muslim immigration and violence. The Christchurch terrorist was consumed by intense racism and hatred of Muslims. He posted a long statement, “manifesto” on ‘white nationalism’ before undertaking the dastardly act. All over the World there were diverse reactions to this horrific act. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who at 38 years of age is also among the youngest heads of government in the world, declared that the victims, many of whom may be migrants or refugees, “are us” and the shooter “is not”. The overriding theme of the Prime Minister’s statements was that her country represents “diversity, compassion and refuge”. “I want to assure people… that all our agencies are responding in the most appropriate way that includes at our borders.” The Pope in a very touching speech said, “In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand… I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community… ”Today we are facing the times where American politics of control over oil wells led to the formations like Al Qaeda and after 9/11 twin tower attacks; US media popularized the phrase Islamic terrorism. What we are witnessing today is the fall out of the policy which has been pursued to control oil wealth. The aftermath of this has been the White Nationalism which has resulted in Islam-Muslim phobia, which needs to be countered ideologically by promoting the inherent global tendency of alliance between diverse cultures. What is noteworthy is that there is strong parallels between Breivik’s manifesto and ideology of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of nature of Islam—Muslims and coexistence with Muslims. Much like European mainstream rightwing parties BJP in India does condemn the violence for name sake but does not condemn the underlying ideology which is based on Islam phobia.

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Glorifying Self: Maintaining status Quo

Gimmicks are a part of Modi style of politics. Rather they form the core of his strategies. His act of washing the feet of five sanitary workers and then tweeting it came as another of such acts. Irritated by his act many a social activists responded through tweets. Bezwada Wilson, our most dogged fighter against manual scavenging, who is convener of Safai Kamgar Sangthan, tweeted “105 people killed in sewer and septic tanks in 2018 alone. He kept mum.The deeper goal of RSS, Modi’s parent organization is to maintain the status quo as far as caste system is concerned. One of the major reasons for formation of RSS was rising assertion of dalits, inspired by Joti Rao Phule and Bhimrao Ambedkar. Dalits had started non Brahman movement in 1920s in Vidarbha region. This upsurge among dalits disturbed the upper caste; who rallied around to form RSS in 1925. RSS ideologue Golwalkar regards Manusmriti as glorious book which gave the laws to Hindu society, the laws which gives values for all the times to come. Ambedkar on other side went on to burn the same book as a symbol of opposition to caste and gender hierarchy. The system of manual scavenging began in early India, well justified by caste system and continued in medieval times as well. While the Muslim kings did introduce different techniques at places for water based disposal of excreta. As such the communal politics, as is its wont, is trying to propagate that since the Muslims used Burqua, women could not go out to jungles, they introduced manual scavenging. This is another way of putting the blame of internal problems to external source. This is far from true. Observation and research into the Mughal forts’ sanitation system shows that they had small outlets in the bathing rooms of Mughal forts which were used as toilets. The waste from these toilets was carried by gravitational force to the ramparts with the help of water. This technique has been seen in the Red Fort in Delhi, in the palaces of Rajasthan, in Hampi, Karnataka and in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

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Pulwama Fall out

One only hopes that the present action by Indian armed forces does not escalate further. The national sentiments have been roused, trade with Pakistan has been curtailed by withdrawing the most favored nation’ status to Pakistan. As such we need to introspect, can this region afford violence over and over again? The underlying factors leading to India-Pakistan-Kashmir discord need to be tackled through a process of dialogue. The hope and prayer is that this limited strike, also being called as ‘surgical strike two’ remains just that and not no more. Imran Khan in the face of aggressive postures has offered to take action if proper evidence is given to Pakistan. He has also shown his willingness for talks. Meanwhile United Nations General Secretary has offered to mediate in the process to bring peace and amity in the region. These are the olive branches we need to grab to see that decade long problem is sorted out. India as a country direly needs to bring the issues related to development, corruption, jobs and agrarian crisis back on the table. It is resolution of these issues which will bring in peace and prosperity in the region, away from the smell of gunpowder on the soil and hate for minorities in the air.

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Kashmiri Americans demonstrate near White House

Hundreds of Kashmiri Americans and friends of Kashmir staged a huge demonstration in front of the White House. Raising slogans: “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “No justice: No Peace” , “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”, “India State of Fear: Not Fair”, demonstrators urged the United States to help persuade India and Pakistan to initiate peace process along with the leadership of the people of Kashmir. India has defied United Nations Security Council resolutions for more than 71 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor. Kashmir dispute is about the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The people should be the makers of their destiny and not an alien power – India. Given a chance, Kashmiris could be instrumental to encourage peace and stability not only in the subcontinent but in Afghanistan as well. As many experts of international relations now publicly say that the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan lies in Kashmir. Indian army is responsible for many untold atrocities but one thing is quite clear that she could not break the will of the people for their right of self-determination.India has defied United Nations Security Council resolutions for more than 71 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor.

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India: Reservation for Economically Backward

Mail from India: Ram Puniyani Indian caste system has been a big obstacle to the journey towards equality. With Independence and the Indian Constitution coming into being, the provisions were made for socially backward classes for reservations for SC and ST. Later in 1990, VP Singh when faced with the threat to his power from Choudhary Devilal, implemented to report of Mandal Commission which gave 27% of reservation to other backward castes. This was in addition to the already existing quota for the ST and SC. This so called reservation for economically backward section of society is yet another attempt by Modi-BJP to throw up another jumla, which has no content as for as implications on poorer upper caste is concerned. At another level bringing in economic criterion in the reservations is an admission of failure to alleviate poverty. It is also an attempt to undo the very basis of reservation as given in our Constitution, and that is social injustice, the social hierarchy. Reservation is not a poverty alleviation program, which any way needs to be undertaken. This again is just not possible by a government, which is more concerned about favoring big Corporate in its policy making.

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Rear View: Netaji Bose, Nehru and anti Colonial Struggle

While hoisting Indian flag on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of proclamation of Azad Hind Government, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said that the contributions of Bose, Patel and Ambedkar have been ignored by the ruling Nehru-Gandhi family. Nothing can be farther from truth than this statement of his. One knows that Ambedkar was made the minister in the first Cabinet of India; he was also given the task of being the Chairman of drafting committee of Indian constitution and was asked to draft the Hindu code bill. Sardar Patel was the Deputy Prime Minster, looking after the Home ministry. The compilation of Sardar Patel’s letters has been edited by Durga Das, ‘Sardar Patel Correspondence’. As per this book it becomes clear that Nehru and Patel were very close and till Patel was alive most of the decisions which taken were with his consent or due to his initiative. Patel regarded Nehru as his younger brother and his leader; both. Earlier Modi tried to propagate that Nehru ignored Sardar Patel and did not attend his funeral in Bombay. Morarji Desai’s biography describes that Nehru did attend the funeral; this was also reported in the news papers that time. As far as Netaji Bose is concerned, Nehru and Bose were close ideological colleagues. Both were socialists and part of the left wing of the Congress. Unlike the followers of Hindutva politics, Bose was very secular. Hindu nationalist leaders attacked Subhas Bose incessantly as he dared to reserve jobs for Muslims when he was elected to lead the Calcutta Corporation. Bose was aware of the tremendous injustice that Muslims faced in recruitment. It was Bose who opposed the Muslim and Hindu communalists both. In Tripura Convention of INC, Bose was elected the Chief, but Gandhi was opposed to him mainly on the ground of Non violence. Bose tended to support violent means. Due to opposition within INC; Bose left Congress to form Forward Block, a left party, which has been part of left coalition in West Bengal for a long time. Bose and Nehru were on the same page as far as future of industrialization and public sector was concerned. Bose’s biographer Leonard A Gordan writes about his ideology: As per Bose “Each [person] should privately follow his religious path, but not link it to political and other public issues. Throughout his career, he reached out to Muslim leaders, first of all in his home province of Bengal, to make common cause in the name of India. His ideal, as indeed the ideal of the Indian National Congress, was that all Indians, regardless of region, religious affiliation, or caste join together to make common cause against foreign rulers.” Savarkar also said ‘No support to armed resistance against British’. It is interesting that while Netaji was fighting the British from across the border, Savrkar and Hindutva Nationalists helped the British army which was fighting AHF of Subhash Bose! The claims that Modi and Co. is following the footsteps of Netaji are a claim which has no substance. The matter of fact is that the efforts of Savarkar were acting against the interests of army raised by Netaji. In contrast, while Congress did not agree with Netaji’s line of action, it was Congress which raised the legal support to fight the cases of the personnel of AHF in the aftermath of the war. Bhulabhai Deasi, Kailashnath Katju and Nehru himself came forward to battle in the court rooms on behalf of AHF.

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UK Parliamentary Group’s Report on Jammu and Kashmir

The Report of the UK Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir (APPKG), on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, has detailed severe Indian human rights atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK). It echoes many of the findings of the UN OHCHR Report on Jammu and Kashmir already published and is critical of the human rights atrocities being committed with impunity by Indian occupation forces in IoK, especially the use of pellet guns, draconian laws including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA). The report also mentions presence of unmarked graves in IoK and enforced disappearances, which confirm the humanitarian emergency in IoK.

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What is India hiding in Kashmir?

“Human rights violations in Kashmir perpetrated by Indian army with legal immunity dwarf in scale the violations that provoked international humanitarian action in other international disputes. Human rights violations in Kashmir have been documented by all international and neutral human rights organization. Very recently, it was also documented in the United Nations report issued by the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The High Commissioner urged India to allow the United Nations delegation to visit Kashmir to asses the situation. But India does not allow such a delegation to visit Kashmir. It clearly shows that India has something to hide. May be, India does not want the world powers to know the following: tens of thousands indiscriminately slaughtered and countless rapes, abductions, custodial disappearances, arbitrary detentions, arsons, and brutal suppression of peaceful political protest,” this was conveyed in a message to the conference attendees of Pakistani American Society of New York (PASNY) by Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian army is involved in serious war crimes. They open fire on unarmed civilians at their will because they have been given immunity under draconian laws, like Armed Forces Special Powers Act. (AFSPA). We demand an inquiry into these war crimes by a neutral agency, like the United Nations, Mr. Geelani added. He insisted that the movement in Kashmir is indigenous, popular and people’s movement and rejected the notion that it is Pakistan sponsored. Speaking as a guest speaker, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum reminded the audience of the injustice, tyranny and inhumanity of the Indian military as it occupies Kashmir. He cautioned that at this moment in our historic struggle for self-determination, the Kashmiri people with poise, confidence and unity are taking their inalienable struggle in a new direction of non-violence and peaceful agitation.

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