Tag Archives: Muslims

एन आर सी और उससे जुड़े चंद सवाल : सबीहा फ़रहत

Guest post by SABIHA FARHAT

[भारतीय-हिन्दू मिथकों और परम्परा पर लंबे समय से लिखते आ रहे  बुद्धिजीवी श्री देवदत्त  पट्टनायक  अपनी एक ट्वीट में  एक लाजवाब  बात  कही . उनहोंने कहा कि जहाँ हिन्दू धर्मं  का मतलब  वसुधैव  कुटुम्बकम है , उसके  लिए  अगर  समूची वसुधा , सारी एक कुनबा  है , वहीँ  हिंदुत्व  का मतलब  सिर्फ़  एन आर सी  (यानी नागरिकों की राष्हैट्रीय फेहरिश्त ) है. बिलकुल दो शब्दों में  , बड़ी खूबसूरती  से पट्टनायक साहब ने इन दोनों  फलसफों के बीच का फर्क़ खोल कर सामने रख दिया  है. इस  संक्षिप्त लेख में   डाक्यूमेंट्री  फ़िल्मकार  और पत्रकार  सबीहा फ़रहत  उसी एन आर सी  से पैदा हुए  चंद सवाल उठा रही हैं.]

आजकल अमित शाह केवल एनआरसी पर स्टेटमेंट दे रहे हैं। “घुसपैठियों ” को बाहर फेंक देंगे और हिन्दू, सिख, बौद्ध, जैन, ईसाई, पारसी को नागरिकता दे देंगें। फिर चाहे उसके लिये संविधान को तक पर रख  कर सिटीज़नशिप ऐक्ट ही क्यों ना बदलना पड़े!

उनकी इस बात से साफ़ ज़ाहिर है कि देश के 16 करोड़ मुसलमान ही “घुसपैठिये” हैं। “दीमक” हैं और उन्हें देश से बाहर खदेड़ने की ज़रूरत है। लेकिन सिर्फ़ मुसलमान से इतनी नफ़रत क्यों? मुसलमान ने इस देश का क्या बिगाड़ा है? क्या उसने किसी की रोटी छीनी, किसी की नौकरी छीनी, किसी का बिज़नेस हड़प लिया। नहीं! क्योंकि अगर वो ऐसा करता तो आर्थिक तौर पर सबसे ज़्यादा कमज़ोर नहीं होता।

Continue reading एन आर सी और उससे जुड़े चंद सवाल : सबीहा फ़रहत

How Many More ‘Halal’ Ponzi Schemes?

It is important to note that the very idea of Islamic banking and promoting it as a parallel to conventional banking – which is being portrayed as un-Islamic – and which has caught the imagination of a section of god-fearing Muslims, is a clear manifestation of shifts in Muslim politics over the world.

'Halal' Ponzi Schemes

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Business Today

Afzal Pasha, a 55-year-old labourer, is dead. He died of a heart attack a few days back.

The news that the attractive scheme in which he had invested his life’s savings worth Rs 8 lakh went bust proved unbearable for him.

While Afzal’s tragic death could catch headlines, we will never know the plight of the thousands of investors – all of them belonging to the Muslim community – who had similarly invested their hard-earned savings in the said investment scheme launched by Mohammed Mansoor Khan in 2006 through his firm I Monetary Advisory (IMA).

The scheme was declared ‘Shariah-compliant’ and worked on ‘“no interest” policy of Islamic banking. A section of the clergy had even certified this scheme as “halal”, which means “lawful” or “permitted” in Arabic, which helped it easily earn the trust of the Muslim community. Small investors from across the state of Karnataka had flocked to it with their investments ranging from a few thousand rupees to a few lakhs.

A few days back, the promoter of IMA just disappeared from Bengaluru and is supposed to have fled to Dubai.

Continue reading How Many More ‘Halal’ Ponzi Schemes?

Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

As the cow-gangs of Hindutva go on a rampage and the the prime minister, Narendra Modi, adopts a posture of strategic silence, the country is rapidly being pushed to the brink of a civil war. This might sound a trifle far-fetched but classically, when large numbers of people begin to believe that there is no government for them, the time is not far when they will start making preparations for defending themselves. It started with the attacks on Muslims but soon enveloped the Dalits as it was bound to. The Una incident, which sparked off a veritable revolt, was followed up by subsequent attacks in Lucknow. The Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association in Punjab, involving large number of Sikh farmers, has also been fighting continuing harassment and violence by cow-gangs of Hindutva in Punjab for some time now. The PDFA president has also stated that they might be forced to act in self-defense. The president Daljit Singh Gill, in fact, reportedly told mediapersons that “(I)f someone attacks the farmers, we will stop them now,” and “(I)f something goes wrong, it is the government’s responsibility.”

Even as the cow-gangs continue with their vigilantism unrestrained and unchecked, a large demonstration yesterday at Jantar Mantar by Samta Sainik Dal, actually sent out yet another signal. It spokespersons said in so many words that they were now prepared to take on the cow-gangs physically, if and where necessary.

Tracing SSD’s lineage back to Dr Ambedkar’s initiative in the 1924, the President of the organization openly blamed the ‘Manuvadi’ forces, in cahoots with the police and bureaucracy, backed by the government. He was candid that it is not the Sikhs or Muslims or Christians who are attacking the Dalits today but the Hindus who are doing it in the name of nationalism and that people were now in a mood to fight back unitedly together.

Not only is Modi’s deafening silence now coming to be seen as a sign of encouragement and complicity, with BJP leaders like Hyderabad MLA Raja Singh openly justifying the Una attack, and no action being taken against him by the party yet, it is clear that this vigilantism is endorsed by the highest quarters in the party. For those who may have missed seeing Raja Singh’s video, this is what he said:

“Jo Dalit gaye ke maas ko le ja raha tha, jo uski pitai hui hai, woh bohut hi achhi hui hai (Those Dalits who were taking the cow, the cow meat, those who were beaten, it was a very good thing to happen).

Continue reading Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

Of Housing, Jobs and Everyday Communalism: Saidalavi P.C.

Guest post by SAIDALAVI P.C.

“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity”

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

On the evening of 21 February, 2015 I and my friend walked through the narrow lines of Vasant Kunj, New Delhi looking for an accommodation for him. On both sides of narrow roads, three-storied buildings blocked sun rays reaching the ground. Here and there scrapheap assaulted our nostrils and a flock of bees and mosquitoes hovered around the area keeping watch. Our eyes waded through the gates of the buildings looking for a signboard announcing vacancies. We pushed a gate open and entered the building looking for the owner. A middle-aged man announced his presence pushing his belly in front of him. We asked, room koi khali hai, bhayya (Is there any room vacant, brother?) He scrutinised us for a moment. May be nonplussed by seeing no marks of our identity (we are clean shaven, well-dressed, normative secular self with supposedly a neutral identity in public) he was bit confused and his lips contorted a bit towards the left. Impassively, he nodded us to follow him since the room was on the second floor. My friend was visibly satisfied by the room, it was well-furnished, with a bathroom, kitchen and a balcony. He said he would take it. Listening to it, the owner’s face had taken a bit more serious expression, and at last he asked what our names are. It seemed our neutral identity was the bomb he wanted to diffuse. The moment we uttered our names, his facial expression changed into one who is caught by colic, he was startled and flushed, and his ears instantly became red. We were unable to make sense of what he was thinking. Then, he spoke hoarsely and told us to leave immediately. He said that if he had known earlier that we were Muslims, he wouldn’t have invited us to see the rooms. He never let rooms to Muslims. We tried to reason with him by asking why he is not renting it to Muslims.

Continue reading Of Housing, Jobs and Everyday Communalism: Saidalavi P.C.

Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad

Guest post by ABDUL KALAM AZAD

On 21st July, 2010 one of my close family relatives, Mydul Mullah (25) was one among the thousands of marginalized Muslims of Barpeta district who were demonstrating in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at district headquarter demanding an error-free fresh NRC (National Register of Citizens). Eventually, police brutally cracked down on the picketers and fired upon them for the ‘crime’ of exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest. After the police firing Mydul Mullah along with his three comrades Khandakar Matleb (20), Siraj Ali (27) and Majam Ali (55) succumbed to the bullet injuries. The Tarun Gogoi led Assam government was forced to suspend the faulty NRC pilot project due to unprecedented public outrage.

The question of ‘illegal migration’ from Bangladesh has been one of the most significant and emotive topics in the political milieu of Assam for almost half a century now. .

The six-year long movement (1979-1985) against illegal immigration, popularly known as the Assam Movement, spear headed by All Assam Students Union claimed itself to be a secular and nonviolent new social movement of ‘indigenous’ people to drive out the illegal immigrants. But analyses of scholars and social scientists like Prof. Hiren Gohain, Prof. Monirul Hussain, Dr. Debabrata Sarma, Diganta Sarma etc. reveal that as soon as the Assam movement accommodated right wing RSS workers into its leadership, the whole movement turned against Muslims of Bengali origin in Assam. Heinous massacres like that of Nellie, Chaolkhuwa, Nagabandha etc. were orchestrated against Muslims of Bengali origin and in broad day light thousands of people were killed. After six years of deadlock, the movement culminated in the signing of the ‘Assam Accord’ with the Government of India in 1985. The accord says that the immigrants, who came to Assam after 25th of March, 1971 will be detected and deported from Assam. One of the mandates of the accord was to update the 1951 National Register of Citizen to facilitate identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam.   Continue reading Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad

The Secular Stake- A Burden, or a Democratic Imperative? Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of MIM recently remarked in a media conclave that ‘Muslims are not coolies of secularism’. The statement made perfect sense for his politics. He is the leader a party that aims to mobilise voters on the basis of them being Muslim. The unprecedented success of Hindutva under Mr Modi in recent elections has upset many old electoral calculations, and opened new opportunities. Mr Owaisi is smelling a chance for the MIM to expand beyond its turf in Hyderabad, to regions where non-BJP parties have been getting the major chunk of Muslim votes with the slogan of secularism, seen principally as the promise of protection from riots. For Mr Owaisi, the remark serves multiple purposes. Average Muslim citizens are deeply disillusioned with a political process that has resulted in the utter marginalisation of their community.  For such voters, the statement is intended to clearly distinguish his party from the so-called secular non-BJP parties. It is calibrated to raise a doubt in their mind, why should only Muslims be expected to vote for such parties, when significant sections of the Hindus have sided with the communal BJP? It is also a preemptive answer to his political competitors and ideological critics, who are likely to accuse him of being communal.

Otherwise too, the secular discourse in India has largely become a minorities’ affair. It is said to be under threat when minorities are attacked. It is claimed to be flourishing when minorities rights are protected. A corollary belief among major sections of the so called majority community is that India  could have as well been non-secular if there were no minorities in the country, or if they are put in their place as the RSS political programme demands. Continue reading The Secular Stake- A Burden, or a Democratic Imperative? Sanjay Kumar

Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad

Guest post by IRFAN AHMAD

Amidst Israel’s recent deadly attacks on Gaza and what Venezuela’s President called ‘its policy of genocide’, many have invoked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948) on two counts. First, he opposed settler colonialism. One analyst in The Economic Times gave a quote, also shared on Facebook: ‘Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French’. Second, implicit in invoking Gandhi is the idea that he stood for non-violence and thus the indicting advice to the terrorised Palestinians to ‘choose peace’.

Both these positions linked to Gandhi, when analysed historically, are misleading, even incorrect and wrong. In 1921, Gandhi did oppose the imposition of Jews over the Arab land. However, later he subtly endorsed settler colonialism. As for Gandhi’s official preaching of non-violence and civil disobedience (satyagraha), they were at best tactical, contextual and temporary. Contrary to his deified mythology as apostle of non-violence, Gandhi indeed justified killing, even felt proud of violence, and opposed civil disobedience when both suited his political and national interests. Continue reading Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad

To Understand the Mind of NDA II, turn to Singhal and the Sangh: Teesta Setalvad

Guest post by TEESTA SETALVAD

I do not expect there to be any outrage, comment or protest over the most recent rants of Ashok Singhal, senior RSS leader and patron of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS offshoot in an interview published in the July 17,2014 of The Hindustan Times  daily. We have as a nation and a polity become sinisterly and compliantly accustomed and accepting of aggressive hatred spilt by the majority and hypocritically touchy and outraged by similar rantings by so-called leaders of the minority. How deep this hypocrisy of majoritarianism has spread is evident in the coverage and depiction of hate speech by our electronic media that picks and chooses what to show, how often and when. So the hate ridden rantings of an Owaisi, or a Qader Rana will be run and re-run across networks and channels but equally insidious and as or more dangerous ravings of politicians who play on the identity of the majority are glossed over, hidden and remarkably, not even commented upon.

Singhal tells us through this interview today, that he welcomes with all his heart the first RSS pracharak as Prime Minister of India but, adding the proverbial sting to the tale, says that what is truly historical and remarkable about NDA II’s victory is that this electoral win was ensured without Muslim votes or support. Barefacedly lending voice to what more sophisticated faces in government including the now maun PM would presently rather leave unsaid, Singhal gloats on the disenfranchisement of India’s largest minority during democratically conducted elections. A time-tested tactic of the octopus-like sangh that generates terror and intimidation in the public sphere by the mutterings of a Singhal and a Togadia and allows the flag bearer beneficiaries of this hate-splitting in governance, the luxuries of convenient, intermittent,  silences.  The Advani-Vajpayee duo in the first NDA were a fine example of this. [Though,  Advani often relapsed into expressing well trained views especially after the brutal burning alive of Graham Staines and his sons (Orissa, January 1999).] NDA II has witnessed some interesting role reversals with many of the flag bearers of hate mongering now at the helm: a cabinet full of hate mongers are in the government’s driving seat. Singhal also emphasises and welcomes – undoubtedly for the reassurance of the sangh support base — all those being chosen for post of Governors are sanghis,  Ram Naik or a  Kesari Nath Tripathi. Continue reading To Understand the Mind of NDA II, turn to Singhal and the Sangh: Teesta Setalvad

Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective

A Fact Finding Report by a Women’s Collective on the Ethnic Riots in Aluthgama, Sri Lanka.

photo

On the 15th of June 2014 ethnic riots took place in Aluthgama following a rally organized by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist fundamentalist organization. Even though the police and state officials had been informed of the potential of the rally to turn violent, no steps were taken to stop the same, instead a large number of police and Special Task Forces (STF) personnel were deployed in the area. In the aftermath of the violence that shocked the country, a women’s team visited Aluthgama and met with several survivors with the objective of documenting the events that took place. Below is their report. Considering the safety of the survivors their names, location and other identities are not recorded.

“Around 12 midnight on 15/06/2014 the Welipitiya Mosque administration made an announcement that a large group of thugs were coming to destroy the Mosque. Upon the announcement the men from the village brought their families, left the women inside the mosque for their safety, and stood outside the mosque to protect the mosque. Around 2000 persons arrived in a procession at that time chanting slogans saying ‘we will destroy the Dharga Town mosque’, ‘we will change Dharga Town into a Sinhala village’ and started pelting stones from all sides,” said a mother whose son was attacked in this incident. She stated that she has four sons, she has been separated from her husband since the birth of her youngest son, and has brought them up single handedly amidst various challenges. “My two unmarried sons aged 20 and 17 heard the announcement from the mosque and left to guard the mosque. A few minutes after they left home I heard gun shots and ran outside to look for my sons but I could not locate them. I ran back home and prayed for their safety. I could hear the firing of gun shots for about 2 hours. Continue reading Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective

Aluthgama – Thinking about Co-existence and Resistance in a Time of Crisis: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Guest post by MAHENDRAN THIRUVARANGAN

I come from a community that was both a victim and a villain in the thirty-year civil war that unsettled all of us. We were victims because the Sri Lankan state killed thousands of us, grabbed our lands and made us homeless; we were villains as we could not question the LTTE strongly when the movement massacred members of the Sinhala and Muslim communities and members of our own community who refused to conform to the movement’s ideology. We witnessed how the narrow nationalist politics that we romanticized, alienated us from the other communities on the island. We witnessed how our failure to criticize the decisions made by our leaders contributed in part to the death of thousands of Tamils in Mullivaikal in May 2009. We witnessed how our obsession with the particular—our language, our culture, our religion and our homeland—incarcerated us within the walls of purism and political decadence. It is true that there was no space for dissent when the LTTE ruled us. But we need to accept as a community that because the LTTE fought against a state that dominated us and persecuted us, many of us often, in our everyday conversations, justified its violence against other communities. Any community that clings to a narrow-minded nationalism has many a lesson to learn from the painful experiences that the Tamils in Sri Lanka went through during the war. When I read about the recent attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama, I remembered the Eviction of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE and the violence that the LTTE directed at the Muslim community in the East in the name of Tamils. Continue reading Aluthgama – Thinking about Co-existence and Resistance in a Time of Crisis: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Shazia Ilmi – Why Her Exit is Such a Blow: Jyoti Punwani

Guest post by JYOTI PUNWANI

Shazia Ilmi’s exit marks a real blow for AAP supporters. Her frequent TV appearances as AAP spokesperson made her out to be an articulate, confident woman who didn’t need to assert her religious identity to prove a point, which is a rare thing in today’s politics. Her participation in the Anna andolan was as much a pointer to its inclusive nature as it was to the emergence of a new kind of Muslim in public life: one who had no hesitation plunging into a mass movement which had strong nationalist overtones, was avowedly against the political system and had little to do with minority concerns.

When Shazia almost won from Delhi’s R K Puram constituency, it suddenly came home – for the first time in years, a Muslim candidate had been fielded from a Hindu-dominated constituency, and the Hindus had voted for her. In Mumbai, a Muslim political activist who’s friendly with every political party, has for long told Shiv Sena leaders that the moment they field a Muslim from any of their strongholds, he would join them. “The ability to take the other community along, that’s the test of a secular politician,’’   a senior Congress Muslim in Nanded  told me, rueing the fact that Muslims who could do this were ignored by his leader Ashok Chavan (one of the two Congressmen to win in the state this time). Continue reading Shazia Ilmi – Why Her Exit is Such a Blow: Jyoti Punwani

Isn’t ‘Illegal Bangladeshi’ Racist Shorthand for Bengali Speaking Muslims in Assam? Bonojit Hussain

Guest post by Bonojit Hussain

The fragile and unstable peace in Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) of Assam has once again been ruptured. The recent massacre of Muslims of East Bengali descent in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts of BTAD on 1st and 2nd May has already taken toll on 46 lives; with many people still missing, the dead count might go up.

This is not the first time that targeted ethnic violence has occurred in what is today BTAD. Through out the 1990’s armed Bodo groups have indulged in pogroms against Nepalis, Adivasis and Muslims and Hindus of East Bengali descent. But since the creation of BTAD in 2003, increasingly only Muslims of East Bengali descent are being targeted. Worst among all was the so-called ‘riots’ of 2012 where 108 people died. According to sources in Assam government, 79 were Muslims of East Bengali descent, 22 were Bodos and 4 were from other communities.

A lot has been written about the underlying causes of these recurring targeted killings and we need not dwell upon that here. (for an overview see Sanjib Barua, “Assam: The Politics of ElectoralViolence”, Outlook Magazine, May 09, 2014). What should bother us all is how quickly discourse over the recurring massacres in BTAD is transformed into a debate on the question of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, wherein the victims are immediately labeled as ‘illegal Bangladeshis’. Even if the victims were ‘illegal Bangladeshis’, the barbaric act of killing 46 people in a span of 36 hours is a crime against humanity. Continue reading Isn’t ‘Illegal Bangladeshi’ Racist Shorthand for Bengali Speaking Muslims in Assam? Bonojit Hussain

Condemn the Gruesome Massacre in Bodoland (Assam) : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

Text of a statement issued by New Socialist Initiative

New Delhi; 07/05/2014

New Socialist Initiative (NSI) strongly condemns the gruesome massacre of Bengali speaking Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) in Assam, which has witnessed the resurgence of the ugly head of ethnic violence. As per latest official reports, 38 people have been killed, the majority being women and children, while several have been injured and many are missing.

On the evening of 1st May at 7.30 pm, 8 armed Bodo youths riding on 4 bicycles entered a house in Narasinghbari village in Baksa District and fired gunshots. The next day (2nd May), allegedly 40 Bodo militants surrounded 77 houses in Narayanguri village in the same district and fired indiscriminately. Until now 30 dead bodies have been found. According to district administration 15 people are still missing, among them 12 children and 3 women. Simultaneously, in Balapara village in Kokrajhar district at around 12.30 am on 2nd May, armed Bodo youths killed 8 people. The survivors in Baksa district told that the death toll will substantially increase as the militants killed and threw the dead bodies into the Beki River that flows through the area. Continue reading Condemn the Gruesome Massacre in Bodoland (Assam) : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

Condemn the Massacre in Assam: A Statement by Civil Society Groups, Activists and Concerned Citizens

Text of a statement issued by Civil Society Groups and Concerned Citizens

5th May 2014

Condemn the Massacre in Assam, Demand immediate arrest of Pramila Rani Brahma; Ensure safety of Muslims in BTAD: A Statement by Civil Society Groups, Activists and Concerned Citizens

We, the undersigned, express our profound sense of grief and alarm over the gruesome massacre of Bengali-speaking Muslims on 2nd May. This most recent round of killings — in which 32 people, mostly women and children have lost their lives – is another link in the long and… bloody sequence of ethnic cleansing being carried out by tribal Bodo militant groups with impunity.

For years, Hindutva politics has successfully created the bogey of the ‘Bangladeshi’, rendering Muslims as suspects and targets, locked in a perpetual battle with the tribal Bodos. In his rally at Silchar, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate reiterated precisely this. He said: “There are two kinds of people who came from Bangladesh to Assam: those brought as part of a political conspiracy for vote bank politics of a particular party (Muslims) and others who were harassed in the neighbouring country (Hindus). Those brought for vote bank politics and smugglers must be pushed back, while the second category must be accommodated.” (Silchar, 22nd February). Continue reading Condemn the Massacre in Assam: A Statement by Civil Society Groups, Activists and Concerned Citizens

The Carnage in Kokrajhar: Saba Sharma

Guest post by SABA SHARMA

Since the evening of the 1st of May, it has been reported that at least 23 people have been killed in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts in Assam, administered under the Bodoland Territorial Council. All the victims were from the Muslim community, and were allegedly shot by the militant Bodo group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), named after its ruthless leader Songbijit, from the Karbi Anglong area in Assam. Indefinite curfew has been imposed here and in neighbouring districts as well, as rumours of other killings and beatings filter in, impossible to separate from facts in the atmosphere of panic that currently prevails.

Polling ended in the Kokrajhar constituency in Assam on the 24th of April, ending a temporary sense of calm and normalcy. Ethnic violence between Bodos and Bengali Muslims took place in July 2012, majorly affecting Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri district. Nearly 5 lakh people were displaced from their homes, and most did not return until January 2013, staying in relief camps, too afraid to return. Once the camps were formally shut down and people returned to their homes, normalcy was still a distant reality. An economic boycott imposed by Bodo leaders on the Bengali Muslim community meant that agricultural labour, a primary occupation for Bengali Muslims, was all but non-existent. In the last year, this economic boycott has slowly been relaxed in some areas, while in other areas, it prevails as strongly as ever. In most areas, markets were among the first spaces to become mixed again, an almost neutral zone where people began to interact with one another again. But in other markets, like Koila Moila bazaar in Chirang, Muslims are still ‘banned’. Continue reading The Carnage in Kokrajhar: Saba Sharma

Professors of Political Science and the Modi Phenomenon

Ashutosh Varshney has written yet another piece on the Modi phenomenon. This time he has invoked “the discipline of political science”, which he has “taught for two decades”, and underlined that it fundamentally disagrees with an “institutions-free” view of the rise of Narendra Modi. [See my response to his earlier piece here.] Before I examine Varshney’s ‘arguments’ about present politics, let me cite the following from nothing less than the American Political Science Review – a revealing chapter from the history of the discipline that he and I share:

Following World War I came the turbulence of the 1920s and 1930s. Communism and fascism rose to prominence as the world’s great powers fell to deflation and imperialism. Yet during this time of great political upheaval, political science became a study in irrelevance. Perhaps as a result of no longer sharing common theories and assumptions, the discipline fragmented and retreated inwards. Scanning the American Political Science Review from 1923 to 1936 for any sustained analysis of the great events of the day such as Mussolini’s march on Rome, Japan’s occupation of Manchuria, or even the Great Depression, one will come up empty. What one does find are, for example, reports of constitutional change in Estonia (Roucek 1936), predictions that the German administrative structure would stop Hitler becoming a dictator (Friedrich 1933), and analysis of the legal monism of Alfred Verdoross (Janzen 1935). [Mark Blythe, ‘Great Punctuations, Randomness, and the Evolution of Comparative Political Science’, APSR, Vol. 100, No. 4, November 2006. All emphasis added]

Perhaps this delusional business of waxing on the strength of institutions has been a professional pastime in the discipline but one could excuse the political scientists of the 1920s and 1930s, insofar as they were making the mistake for the first time. What do you say of someone who repeats the same error with ever greater self-righteousness, eighty/ ninety years down the line? And if this business of repeating the same error over and over again is something more than a pastime, if it is integral to political science, then all one can say is, so much the worse for political science! Continue reading Professors of Political Science and the Modi Phenomenon

What is ‘communal’? The problem of false equivalence: Sheba Tejani

Guest post by SHEBA TEJANI

Although the BJP has attempted to build a campaign around the issue of “vikas” during this election, the hate filled fumes of “communalism” keep slipping through the cracks. Last week, we heard Ramdas Kadam say that Modi would find a permanent solution for recalcitrant Muslims and ship them off to Pakistan, which he would also incidentally destroy in six months. Giriraj Singh wanted to send everyone who opposed Modi to Pakistan. A video clip showed Praveen Togadia inviting his audience in Bhavnagar to evict Muslims and forcibly occupy their homes, openly encouraging criminal activity. FIRs have been filed against Kadam and Togadia after the Election Commission took note of their speeches while Singh has been barred from campaigning.

But then some would say other candidates and parties are no better and make similarly incendiary remarks: Shazia Ilmi, AAP’s candidate from Ghaziabad recently urged a group of Muslims to be more “communal” and less “secular” in deciding whom to vote for. She urged them to defend their own interests and to vote for one of “their own”, including Arvind Kejriwal in that category. Continue reading What is ‘communal’? The problem of false equivalence: Sheba Tejani

Pogrom Politics from 1984 to 2002: Sanjay Kumar

Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR

Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002 are among the darkest spots in India’s post independence history. Like all other communal killings in the country, they too were similar in the mechanics of their violence. Connivance of the top state authorities, active role of elected politicians, police and bureaucratic indifference, a cornered and hapless minority, and participation of ordinary folks in violence and looting, all elements of the process of communal killings almost reached the  point of perfection in these two pogroms. So much so, that they indeed were not contained, but played themselves out fully, till the time killers and looters got tired, or when nobody was left to be killed, and nothing remained to be burnt and looted. All those who talk, think, write or make claims about civilisation in India, should take a few moments off to come to terms with these two events. Victims of these pogroms too, like of other communal killings in the country, continue to wait for justice. Collusion of investigative agencies, protective shadow of state power and judicial lethargy has meant that prime movers behind these killings have remained beyond the arm of justice. In fact, particularly in these two cases, the political fortunes of parties involved in killings witnessed an unprecedented boom. Congress party under Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 returned with the largest ever national mandate to Lok Sabha; and the BJP under Narendra Modi has successfully decimated all political opposition in Gujarat, and is now eyeing central power under his leadership. Continue reading Pogrom Politics from 1984 to 2002: Sanjay Kumar

Dilemma of Indian Muslims After Partition: Yasmin Qureshi

Guest post by YASMIN QURESHI. Excerpts from this essay were read at an event organized by the Partition Archives project in Berkeley earlier this year.

Abbu’s family, like many other Muslims in India was torn between staying in their ancestral land and going to the new country founded for Muslims. The call for Pakistan and the Muslim League movement was more prominent in the elite or educated classes. For Abbu’s family it was a distant idea and life outside Dilli was inconceivable. But the partition wave didn’t leave them untouched and a few family members including Abbu migrated to Lahore. Lahore was chosen because they had heard it was similar to Dilli. A year in Lahore was enough for them to realize their heart was still in DilliGhalib ki galiyan, echoes of azaans from Jama Masjid, pigeons flying above their roofs and the aroma of korma brought them back to the home their father had built.

The conflict of choosing between the newly founded nation states of India and Pakistan divided many families. Some of Abbu’s relatives shuffled between the two for many years till they were forced to make a choice by the governments in the 1960s. His elder sister’s family and a few other nieces and nephews decided to become Pakistani citizens.

For Muslims that stayed in India, the next few decades were years of fear and subjugation. Communal violence, often organized and manufactured by political parties or the right wing Hindu organization, RSS throughout the 1960s in cities where Muslims were in large numbers was a threatening message to the Muslims that if they choose to stay here they would have to live as a silenced minority with a constant reminder they were guilty of dividing India. Continue reading Dilemma of Indian Muslims After Partition: Yasmin Qureshi

Thejas Daily: A Newspaper’s Encounters with the Ruling Powers : N P Chekkutty

This is a guest post by N P CHEKKUTTY

In normal circumstances, journalists are not people in the limelight– they are supposed to be the first witnesses to history in the making. Their role is as observers of incidents and purveyors of what goes on in the public sphere. And they discharge their duties as representatives of the citizens, generally enjoying the public confidence. That explains the key role of media in a democratic polity, as representatives of the various segments of people and as a forum where a dispassionate debate of public issues can take place. Like the Red Cross personnel on a war front, media-persons are expected to do their job without hindrance of harassment, keeping away from the sound and fury of public life.  Continue reading Thejas Daily: A Newspaper’s Encounters with the Ruling Powers : N P Chekkutty

Fear and the Predicament Facing Muslims in Sri Lanka

A Muslim lecturer friend some time ago described a troubling moment. The incident took place when he pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket with his wife few weeks ago. As they got out of the car, a group of men standing by first stared at his wife, who was wearing a headscarf, and then looked intently at him. In a split second, his day was disturbed; he reflected on this moment for quite some time. Was this a harmless gaze or did it reflect a change in attitude towards Muslims? My friend described his own reaction to that momentary stare as one that brought on fear. What did he fear? And why?

The Muslim community is in a state of fear in Sri Lanka. That is what many Muslim intellectuals, activists and community leaders have been saying in recent months at various forums. Do they fear the fringe groups mobilising Sinhala Buddhist nationalism against the Muslim community? Or is it the reception of anti-Muslim rhetoric by broader sections of the Sinhala community? Or is this fear rooted in the support given to such extreme forces by the ruling regime? Or is it fear of the Sri Lankan state itself, responsible for the security of its Muslim citizenry? Continue reading Fear and the Predicament Facing Muslims in Sri Lanka