13 Questions for December 13

It is shortly going to be five years to December 13, 2001 when the Indian parliament in New Delhi was attacked by a group of men who entered the precincts of the Parliament in an Ambassador Car. In the past five years, we have seen the ups and downs of a convoluted trial. The forging of evidence, the acquital of SAR Geelani (one of the accused) and in recent days a mounting sense of disquiet around the circumstances in which Mohammad Afzal Guru has been handed a death sentence.

Many questions remain unresolved. Here is a list of 13 Questions for December 13, excerpted from the introduction by Arundhati Roy to the forthcoming Penguin India publication – ‘December 13 – A Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament’.

The book is an anthology of essays and texts on December 13 by – A G Noorani, Arundhati Roy, Ashok Mitra, Indira Jaising, Jawed Naqvi, Mihir Srivastava, Nandita Haksar, Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Praful Bidwai, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Sonia Jabbar, Syed Bismillah Geelani and Tripta Wahi

13 Questions for December 13 (by Arundhati Roy – from the Introduction to ’13 December – A Reader’, Penguin India, New Delhi, December 2006)

Question 1: For months before the Attack on Parliament, both the government and the police had been saying that Parliament could be attacked. On 12 December 2001, at an informal meeting the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee warned of an imminent attack on Parliament. On 13 December Parliament was attacked. Given that there was an ‘improved security drill’, how did a car bomb packed with explosives enter the parliament complex? Continue reading 13 Questions for December 13

Begging for an answer

[First published in Mid-Day]

The blogosphere has imperceptibly risen to great importance in my life. The same time as being intangible, (that is why it is called virtual isn’t it), it is also a more visible sphere. The readers have names, you can interact with them, the comment-war can sometimes become unending. And there are no national boundaries.

A piece I wrote for a web journal called Kafila was linked to some other blogs and in one day alone, at one blog alone, there were over a hundred comments.

Apart from blogs, which is a sort of personal space with a public view, there are also mailing lists where critical discussions take a different form than a newspaper or a printed magazine. Continue reading Begging for an answer

Why Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV is Broadcasting Sunday Mass

By SOPHIE McNEILL

Sophie McNeill is a reporter with SBS Television Australia, her blog from Lebanon can be found at http://www9.sbs.com.au/

[Note from NM: I received this from nothing2report@gmail.com, and was struck by how this kind of complex reporting is almost non-existent in India, at least in the English media . How often do reporters actually speak to participants in a rally, going beyond the media-designated ‘stars’ who are present (whose own sincerity and commitment the media itself then paints as being ‘merely for publicity’ – it’s a vicious cycle.) How much political protest by non-party citizens’ groups gets covered at all except as traffic disruptions or if it has been ‘newsworthy’ because of stars/violence/self-immolations? How many reports in print or on the 24 hour TV news channels actually give the consumer a sense of what the issues are, what are the debates, or try to go beyond the Big Fight format of For and Against? Do news reporters do any background research ever? How many 6th of Decembers have passed with no coverage at all of huge-to-small (differing from year to year) secular protests by a range of people from Gandhians to the ultra left; but with two predictable photographs every year – one of recognizable Muslims and another of the Shiv Sena/Bajrang Dal protesting and celebrating respectively, counterposed on front pages of newspapers?
Apart from being an exemplary piece of reportage, Sophie McNeill’s article below give us a fascinating insight into politics in Lebanon.
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A truck laden with yellow Hezbollah flags drives past the Christian neighbourhood of Gemayzeh early Sunday morning in downtown Beirut. There’s a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on the windscreen, but it’s not his name that the young men on board are chanting. “General, General!” yell these young Shiite boys.

Their chant is for the leader of Hezbollah’s largest Christian ally, the former General Michel Aoun. And this van captures an important dynamic that many of the international and Lebanese press have omitted from their coverage of the last few days — that almost a quarter of the crowd at the huge anti-government protests have been Lebanese Christians. Continue reading Why Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV is Broadcasting Sunday Mass

Malegaon Bomb Blasts : Need for a Fresh Probe

It was rather an unusual type of protest on the streets of Malegaon. But hardly anyone outside the town could even know about it. Protesters donned same kind of hoods which police places on the heads of arrested criminals. They also wore black bands around their arms in a show of protest against official attempts to portray the victims as terrorists. But neither any of those ‘breaking news channels’ nor any of those citizen journos, deemed it necessary to at least report the incident.
The venue for the sit-ins were those very spots which had witnessed bomb blasts on 8 th September – namely Bara Kabristan and Hamidia mosque- where around forty innocent people breathed their last and hundreds of people got injured. (Ref : The Milli Gazette, 1-15 December 2006)


Of course, the unique sit-in was part of the ongoing protest campaign by the townspeople. In fact, the city observed a complete bandh on the 14 th November as part of its protest against the attitude of the police and authorities. It was a day when Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, came to visit the town to lay the foundation stone of a hospital. People very well knew that if the hospital would have come up as scheduled, many innocent lives could have been saved on that fateful day.
Continue reading Malegaon Bomb Blasts : Need for a Fresh Probe

God and Faith In The Life of Indians

What is common between golfer Jyoti Randhawa and actress Khushboo ? In fact, looking at their distinct fields, it would certainly be difficult to discern any thread of commonality. But if one would have come across the latest survey published in a leading newspaper one would already have got an answer. According to this survey, both of them do not believe in ‘any higher power’. For Jyoti ‘the only power I believe in is willpower- the power within you’, for Khushboo ‘my power is within me. I live for people whom I love and who love me’.
Interestingly people like Jyoti or Khushboo cannot be considered as lone rangers in this society which is becoming rather more religious with time. (A trend which is definitely at variance with what is happening in the West) Sixty six respondents out of a group of thousand plus clearly stated that they are non-believers.

Of course, the commonality shared by these two stalwarts of their own fields vis-a-vis their understanding about ‘higher power’ , is not the only interesting fact which readily emerges from the survey done by the Times of India people with TNS, a leading market research agency to know ‘how Indians view God and their faith’.(10 city TOI-TNS poll ( TOI, 26 th Nov 2006) )
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To be very frank , the recent survey done across ten cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Patna, Lucknow and Nagpur- with 1,007 respondents, which was restricted to people falling in socio-economic categories A,B and C, present a mixed set of conclusions. Continue reading God and Faith In The Life of Indians

Playing Cops and Reporters

This article was published in The Telegraph, Kolkata, December 5, 2006.

Here’s an amusing little story. According to reports in a leading daily, (August 26 and September 4), Hoshangabad police charged a couple with the murder of their twelve year-old son. Their son was indeed missing, and a body was found near the railway track. The parents confessed to the crime, and spent over 45 days in jail. Six months after his murder, young Gabbar turned up in town. He had fallen asleep while selling peanuts on trains, and woke up in Jalgaon. There he was put into a correctional institution, and later, sent to Bhopal. Finally he managed to convince someone to send him back home. Present in court, he listened to the government pleader arguing that the parents had confessed to the murder, so he could not be Gabbar; that the body found near the railway track was not Kallu alias Tufan, as claimed; and that neighbours had identified the dead body as that of Gabbar. The neighbours meanwhile, told the reporter they had never identified the dead body as his, and that this boy was indeed Gabbar. “We know him since he was born”, said one of them simply, “how could we make such a mistake?” Continue reading Playing Cops and Reporters

Action Alert – Communal harmony activists arrested in Karnataka

[From Clifton from Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore]

Friends,

Most of you are aware of the Sangh Parivar’s attempts to destroy the secular fabric in Karnataka by targeting the Baba-Datta shrine on Bababudangiri near Chikmagalur, a shrine that is an example of syncretic traditions in the state, attracting people of different faiths. You are also aware of the role of this present coalition government in supporting and promoting these activities of the Sangh Parivar. Now the government has given permission to the Sangh Parivar to conduct the Shobha Yatra and about 300 activists of the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike who reached Chikmagalur to protest this have been arrested today (02.12.2006).

Continue reading Action Alert – Communal harmony activists arrested in Karnataka

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