Tuesday, 21 August 2012

False propaganda over Bangladeshi immigrants responsible for Bodo-Muslim clashes!

RSS' propaganda over immigration has affected media also
For years, there has been a sustained campaign that Muslim population has been growing by leaps and bounds in Assam.

The truth is exactly the opposite. However, the fact is that if a lie is repeated hundreds of times, people tend to believe it. With Sangh Parivar and its allied groups mouthing the same at every forum on ground and on internet, it had already prejudiced the minds.

The outbreak of the Bodo-Muslim clashes that have displaced lakhs of people in Assam, must send us into introspective mode. After 65 years of independence, we are yet to gain maturity. The Kokrajhar violence just shows it.

Though the state government's inept handling is another aspect, national media also fell prey to the bogey of immigrants' capturing Assam. Census reports clearly show that there is no en masse entry of Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam.

Even native Assamese Muslims are labelled as Bangla and outsiders. This is a sad situation. Nilim Dutta, who  is head of Strategic Research and Analysis Organisation, Guwahati has delved into the issue of violence in Assam at length.

Poisoning the minds of people is easy in this age. But its also important that one should de-communalize it. To understand the complexities behind the violence, the tensions, the land related issues and the cause of trouble in Kokrajhar, first have an unbiased mind and then read this article here.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Attack on MLA Rumi Nath in Assam signifies a new low for Indian society: Corruption okay, Choice of husband not!

Corruption fine, not woman's choice of husband!
We tolerate corruption worth billions, raise no voice against injustice to poor and never take to streets to protest the misdeeds of bureaucrats but hundreds gathered to attack the woman over her marriage.

Even if she married again, without proper divorce (this is just an unsubstantiated allegation) from her first husband, its her personal life and action can be taken as per law.

But who are the citizens who 'teach her lesson'. How many of them who attacked her were saints who had committed no crime during their life on this earth.

A hapless pregnant woman was targeted and beaten up by hundreds because they suspected she married Jaki Zakir, a Muslim, after conversion to Islam and without divorce. It was our society's collective hypocrisy at its best, when people entered her hotel room and targeted the couple.

She was seriously injured in the brutal attack. Rumi Nath's husband also received multiple injuries. The incident in Karimganj angered her supporters in Hailakundi, who held protests. Tension was in several parts of the state, due to this dastardly assault.

The entire attack was shown on TV screens and NCW took a note of it. There was outrage in some sections but overall the 'Holier than thou' attitude and the role of playing moral police has showed our society in poor light.

The right-wing Hindutva forces are doing incalculable damage to our secular fabric and the multi-cultural ethos. Time to identify and arrest the guilty and punish them severely so that no one in future dares to take such an action. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Afzal Guru Vs Balwant Singh Rajoana: India's hanging dilemma, BJP's strange politics and need for a rethink on capital punishment!

Balwant Singh Rajoana
The BJP leaders who are most vocal over the demand to hang Afzal Guru, were singing different tunes when it came the issue of hanging Balwant Singh Rajoana, the Sikh militant who was convicted for assassination of Beant Singh.

In parliament, BJP's leaders spoke against capital punishment to Rajoana. Already, in Punjab a huge movement against the hanging, had built up. Law-and-order situation was fluid once again. The jailer said that he couldn't hang Rajoana, despite court's orders.

Sushma Swaraj was no longer mouthing fire over 'Centre's delay' in hanging the convict. Clearly, it was coalition-era politics consideration that was a reason for this stand. The same party has been aggressively pushing for execution of Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru.

As Akal Takht ordered the Punjab Chief Minister to ensure that Rajoana was not executed, the Chief Minister acted as per the directions. Akal Takht, the supreme Sikh body, had suggested to Parkash Singh Badal, that he should take up the issue of staying the execution with President Pratibha Patil and PM Manmohan Singh.

Rajoana's supporters said that among those prosecuted, he was the only person who didn't contest the charges. He didn't engage a lawyer and also refused to accept the government appointed lawyer. The situation is quite similar to the Guru case though.

The issue of clemency led to an upsurge of popular opinion among Sikhs. The jailer refused to conduct the execution in his prison. Administration and police were wary of the situation as well. There were violent protests in Punjab.

To a large number of people it may seem insane that a 'terrorist' is not being hanged and there is a movement to stay the death sentence. But one must see from a larger perspective. The Sikhs perhaps rightly question that why Rajoanas get death sentence, but nothing happens to those who were behind the horrific dance of death in Delhi in 1984.

Rioters and the politicians who led the killer mobs that led to rapes and murders in Delhi, remain scot-free. Of course, one wrong doesn't justify the other. But slow judicial process, either in case of the Delhi anti-Sikh massacre or Gujarat anti-Muslim carnage, are reasons for this pain among minorities.

Big politicians who fanned the flames of hatred and were responsible for the large scale killings in riots are never prosecuted. They didn't spend a day in jail. They were not prosecuted under TADA or POTA.

After the desecration of Golden Temple in 1984, the extra-judicial killings, the overzealous cops' excesses in Punjab and human rights violations aren't forgotten as yet. Communal riots create deep scars and it's high time that the governments must ensure that the accused get punished.

Else, there will always be comparisons and discomforting situations. Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab are too states that need healing touch, rather than mob justice. When cases involving influential persons can drag for decades, there can be a thought surely when it comes to hangings that may inflame passions.

These issues must be dealt with sensitivity. For the moment, the hanging has been stayed. But the larger issue remains. Will politicians who preside over riots and communal pogroms face similar cases and get harsh sentences or they are above the law?

Of course, a debate is needed on capital punishment. Most countries have done away with his practice. In India also, the popular persons with mass support would never be given death sentence. Then, why continue this practice, at all?

Let's discuss it right now. Rather than wait for the next Guru or Rajoana.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Gujarat Genocide: Ten years after riots wounds remain, justice eludes victims, Narendra Modi still at the helm

Ten years ago Indian state, Gujarat, witnessed a modern era holocaust. The birthplace of Gandhi turned into the land Godse*.

Independent India's worst riot(s) that was termed as state-sponsored pogrom and even genocide had made the world sit up and notice how the land where the apostle of non-violence was born, turned into the land of killers.

The horrific killings had disgusted even BJP leaders. It was India's plunge into dark ages. Gujaratis, the business community, were not known for intolerance. One recall the period with words like mass murders, rapes and killing of infants or images of hate-spilling eyes that now characterize the era. 

Godhra train burning was an incident that was used to target entire Muslim population in Gujarat. Hate had swept Gujarat. Much water has flown down the Sabarmati since then and it is common now to say that Gujarat has moved on. But is it true?

The BJP was at the helm in Gujarat then. Narendra Modi was the chief Minister. Ten years later there is not a slight difference in status quo. There is no regret or remorse. The successful PR exercise has to an extent positioned the Gujarat CM as 'vikas purush'.

Riot victims remain on the fringe of the society. Justice eludes them. Muslims live as second class citizens. Whenever one talks of Gujarat's post-Godhra massacre, the BJP and RSS sympathisers try to draw parallel with 1984 riots.

The difference is that Congress apologised for the riots. Narendra Modi hasn't said a word about it. He doesn't accept a mere skullcap from a Muslim Sufi who met him recently. There is no gesture to show that the state government cares for victims.

In 2002, children were burnt alive, women raped and entire residential townships wiped off. Incidents like the one when a pregnant woman's stomach was torn up and the foetus was thrown in fire, brought shame for the country.

So much that the word Gujarat itself became synonymous with Injustice. No amount of progress can change the perception unless the justice is done. SIT inquiry is on. Its report on Narendra Modi's role is being awaited.

Whether it holds him responsible or not, there is need to make amends in Gujarat and there is no doubt in this regard. Gujaratis should also introspect. A financially strong state can not be vibrant and progressive unless there is humanitarian concern and inclusiveness.

*Godse. Nathuram Godse was a Hindu fanatic who had shot Mahatma Gandhi dead in 1948.

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