Saturday, December 30, 2006

India erupts after Saddam Hussein's execution: Photos of trains stopped in Lucknow, anger in Bhopal & Bangalore


Tens of thousands of Indians came out in scores of Cities and towns across the nation, to protest the hanging of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. 

Mostly Muslims, leftists, Samajwadi Party workers and citizens from various walks of life cutting across religious lines, hit the streets.

Following are some of the photographs to capture the mood from Lucknow, Bangalore, Bhopal and other cities of the country.

Though lakhs have already died in the war, Saddam Hussein's hanging on the eve of Eid-ul-Zuha, enraged Muslims.

People from other communities, especially, those with Communist background, were seen participating in the protests.

Slogan against George Bush
In fact, it was Saddam Husain as a symbol of the anti-imperialistic resistance that also brought such a large number of people out on streets. 

Hindus were heard ruing the death of a friend of India. In first photograph Samajwadi party activists are seen atop a train on the outskirts of Lucknow which they stopped. 

Trains were stopped elsewhere also to protest the killing of Saddam Hussein. There were huge rallies taken out.

In other photo, a woman, a surviving victim of Bhopal gas tragedy* holds a placard with message against-George Bush message, written in Urdu. 

In the third photograph, United States of America's president George Bush's effigy set ablaze in Bangalore. 

However, in Lucknow a section of Shias today celebrated. Most of these demonstrations and protests were peaceful.



The protesters were sad but calm and there was no destruction of property or arson reported from anywhere. 

There were huge protests in South India also. Ulema had urged Muslims to exercise restraint. 

The figure of number of protest is yet to come but over a hundred demonstrations were reported. 

Many cities had over a dozen demonstrations each and on Sunday many marches are planned.


Saddam Hussein executed: Tragedy for Asia, shame for Middle-East & Arab States


Saddam Hussein's hanging in Iraq: Tragedy for Asia

Shame for Middle-East and the Arab States

Saddam Hussein: April 28, 1937-December 30, 2006

He may have been a dictator. He may have committed massacres. Even democratically elected leaders in my country have engineered massacres and riots. 

I would not let a foreign nation decide their fate. Saddam Hussain may not have been a hero for many Muslims like us earlier but his execution exposes the hollowness of Islamic countries and the 'auqaat' [real worth] of these Muslim leaders.


In Saddam Hussein's execution [death by hanging] and before that the farce of the court case, the world has seen another example of the American arrogance that has destroyed numerous countries. A travesty of justice indeed.

Khuda Hafiz Saddam H

usain
Eid-ul-Zuha Mubarak!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Whither civil rights: Jewellers ban veiled women's entry, Adult lovers can't marry

'We are not just beard & burqa'
Meena, 36, a tribal woman and Peter, 38, a rickshaw puller, are in love but they can't marry. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad's local arm Dharm Sena doesn't allow them to marry.

After all, Meena, is a tribal, and the Sena feels it would lead to a tribal's conversion to Christianity. They applied for marriage at the Collector's office but  the permission has not been granted because the woman is not Christian.

Madhya Pradesh has BJP government in power and Assembly has passed a bill that will make such marriages even more difficult.

The Governor has sent the bill to President. Meena's brother Radhey refutes allegations of coercion. 'Peter is a daily wager and can't lure us with any money", he says. Isn't a peculiar situation that two adults, who are in love can't marry?

Check this Link

NO BURQAS IN OUR SHOWROOMS: JEWELLERS IN PUNE

Meanwhile, jewellers in Pune have banned entry of women wearing veil in their shops. The jewellers' association has taken the step after incidents of thefts. They have written to Home Minister for permission to put up a notice outside their shop that 'Veil-wearing customers would not be allowed'.

Maharashtra Minorities' Commission chairman Naseem Siddiqui says, 'We ask every community to condemn this decision. A woman has the right to wear anything she wants. She should be given the choice whether to wear a burqa or a jeans to shop,'.

'Today they are saying that burqa-clad women robbed a jewellery store, and stop veiled women from entering the shops. Tomorrow they will say burqa-clad women robbed a bank, so veiled women will not be allowed in banks too. This is not only absurd but dangerous too,' she said.

Many of us would call it xenophobic and see it as a serious breach of citizens' civil rights. Some would even appreciate the security concerns of jewellers. However, I see more such demands coming from different quarters in future.

With Hindus and Muslims living in separate areas in each City, denial of house to person of other community causing increasing ghettoisation, the gulf between communities has widened a lot in the recent decades [years].

Can you imagine a neighbourhood shopkeeper imposing such a ban? Yes, spic and span showrooms can surely afford that because of the feeling that Muslims don't go to such expensive showrooms where branded jewellery is sold.

Malls can also impose similar bans in future. After all, a burqa [like a bearded Muslim] would appear unfashionable [even grotesque] in such modern environment. This is one of the fall outs of 9/11 that has seen rise in prejudices.


This happened all over the world. Alas, this attitude towards Muslims and burqa in Europe would not affect much but surely it does hurt when it happens in India, a country where Islam is religion of the soil for over a thousand years.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Shaukat Siddiqui's 'Khuda Ki Basti': An epic Urdu novel that depicts human suffering and the spirit to survive against all odds


It was a strange feeling. I had just started reading one of the greatest Urdu novels ever written, 'Khuda ki Basti' and finished a few chapters of it but the next morning I got the news that Shaukat Siddiqui, the author, had passed away in Pakistan.

I had always heard names of three great post-partition novels 'Aag ka Daryaa' by Qurratul Ain Hyder, Udas Naslein by Abdullah Husain and Shaukat Siddiqui's Khuda ki Basti, ever since my childhood.

Hyder's Aag ka Darya was readily available and I also got its English transliteration 'River of Fire', in order to lend it to friends.

I could not find Udaas Naslen but I bought its translation that was published in India a couple of years back under the title 'Weary Generations' I got from Hazratganj [Lucknow].

The third novel Khuda ki Basti [The Blessed City/God's Own Land] eluded me for long. All efforts to get it were in vain for years.

A library where I found it in index, had refused to lend it to me as it was in two volumes and the first part had been missing. Recently they somehow got the first volume and hence I issued the whole book comprising two volumes.

I had not read Shaukat Siddiqui, though he belonged to Lucknow, my birthplace. An Urdu novel that has seen over 50 editions would surely have some unique quality, I knew, but I regret that I could read it so late. It is a very dark novel and while reading it, I, for once, had to review my opinion about the critics of Qurratul Ain Hyder.

Yes, I staunchly felt that those who termed Hyder as a 'bourgeoise writer' and charge her of 'writing for the upper/upper-middle class and romanticising the past', were nothing but a frustrated lot. But as I read Shaukat Siddiqui's masterful story, I could see the real Lucknow, the real Lahore and the real Karachi.

The life of ordinary people in the aftermath of partition, the large number of real people who suffered and who are always on the brink--trying their best to prevail upon their misfortune but whose every effort is thwarted. 

The dreams of the teenaged boys and street kids and their language could never have been written by somebody else with such perfection. Siddiqui never returned to Lucknow but his portrayal of the life of the City's [Lahore-Karachi have the reflection of Lucknow also in the novel] poor and under-privileged class is unmatched [and scary].

The story of teenaged Sultana, whose dreams die young and poverty forces her mother to ask her to elope with a suitor but even he doesn't turn up and her mother has to marry the person who had his eye on the daughter.

Sultana's brother who works at a mechanic's workshop is fired. He runs away but lands up in a juvenile home from where he goes to a pickpocket's school. One of his friend, who earned a few paisas by pushing the cart of a leper beggar also has a tragic fate. 


Other characters of the novel including Sultana's younger brother and her suitor also struggle to survive. Though the noel is terribly gloomy but the characters keep you spellbound. In their struggle for survival, some characters find peace though it is short-lived. 


However, Shaukat Siddiqui has succeeded in writing an exceptional novel that looks like an insider's account of the world where the word 'people' doesn't mean just the businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats or the occasional teacher.


Rather, they are eunuchs, thieves, sodomites, catamites, pickpockets, beggars, streetchildren, activists, zealots, mechanics, junk-dealers and so many others move along side you, forcefully making their presence felt and capturing your imagination.

And once again, the novel speaks their language and lives their hopes and failures, not the author's. It's tragic, yes. It's gloomy, yes but you need to read it. It's damn good! Wish to read more of his works soon. 


For news about his demise. Click. As far the novel is concerned, it's a must-read book that will leave a strong impression on you. It will help us understand human suffering, the extent of exploitation of the poor children, particularly, the street urchins, and in process help us become more evolved and more sensitive persons. 

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photographs of Baqrid, Christmas celebrations in India

Eid-ul-Azha [or Eid-ul-Adha] also known as Baqr'eed and Christmas, two major festivals are round the corner in India as in rest of the world.

While Christianity has over 2 billion followers, Islam has nearly 1.6 billion adherents. Naturally, these are big festivals.

Here a photograph that shows Islamic Umayyad Chanting Association performing Mawlawi dances before the two major festivals in Damascus.

The other photograph shows a Bohra Muslim selling gifts and Santa Claus' dress at his shop in Mumbai.


The Bohras are mostly a trading community that is spread over Western coast of India viz. Gujarat and Maharashtra.

In India also, we celebrate all the festivals. For us, communal harmony is foremost and it has been a tradition for us for centuries.

Best wishes to you ahead of the Festivals.

Id Mubarak

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stop blaming, branding the madarsas: Action on cop for loose talk about madarsas' link with fundamentalism

IMARAT-E-SHARIA, BIHAR
It has become quite a fashion to label madarsas as factories of fundamentalism [or whatever rhymes better and makes a good headline].

In the last decade or so, police and intelligence officials have routinely pointed finger of suspicion towards madarsas and other Muslim institutions.

Recently a senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh did the same. The officer of the rank of Additional Director General (ADGP) termed Imarat-e-Sharia [that was founded by Maulana Azad] as a den of terrorists. Click to read the story in Patna edition of Times of India.

COPS, THEIR LACK OF AWARENESS ABOUT MUSLIM' SECTARIAN ISSUES

Those familiar with the working of local state-level police intelligence units [not talking about central agencies here] are quite aware about the capability of Special Branch and other local police units that pass on information and one is often shocked at their absolute lack of knowledge.

Being a journalist, I have a chance to meet a cross-section of people and most of the times they are not even aware of the difference between an Islamic sect and a School of theology. However, they can readily label a particular madarsa as fundamenetalist.

WHY THINGS DON'T GET REPORTED PROPERLY

After all, they have also to show their working to the superiors. Sometimes such ridiculous claims are made that you don't know whether you should laugh or cry. Most of the local units of intelligence don't have Muslim personnel.

Hence, they gather information edge through journalists, friends and Muslim acquaintances, who are not necessarily aware and whose vision is can be either wrong or biased. So, there is less direct information or clear first-hand understanding.

The decision of Samajwadi Party government to suspend a top police officer of UP after he presented a report linking the immensely respectable Imarat-e-Sharia with militant activities, is laudable.

Link to report on ADGP's suspension in Lucknow edition of Times of India. Click

Remember the Raid on Nadwa
NADWATUL ULEMA, LUCKNOW

It all started with the raid on Nadwatul Ulema in Lucknow during the tenure of Prime Minister Narsimha Rao when the midnight swoop failed to yield anything and no terrorist was caught. It caused embarrassment to government.

But, since then, loose comments [and raids] on the highly respected and nationalist institutions have became a sort of a norm. The absolute mental bankruptcy of such officials causes concern as it naturally angers Muslims.

WHEN A MUSLIM MAN GAVE WRONG INFO TO SETTLE PERSONAL SCORES
Cops caught on the wrong foot, hurried action leads to embarrassing situation for them

A case in point is the incident when a Urdu newspaper owner [who happens to be Barelvi] had claimed that the terrorists in the form of a jamaat had stormed into a mosque. The jamaat members belong to Deobandi group and the former was against Deobandis.

The reason was not just because he had a long-standing dispute with them over the difference of beliefs but mainly due to possession of the land adjacent to mosque. The police rushed into the mosque and found nothing except praying gentlemen.

However, the Deobandi dominated area was aghast at police storming into the mosque [cops hadn't taken off shoes] and hundreds came on streets. Arson and stone pelting led to the burning of the paper owner's house.

Had the officer-in-charge of police been aware of the Deobandi-Barelvi issue [which he should have been as his predecessors or should have been briefed], the incident would not have happened. In the past also he made similar complaints owing to a personal vendetta.


TAKE ACTION BUT AFTER VERIFYING
Learn, Get info from different sources, Don't follow anyone blindly

But policemen were aware, however, the new policeman came from a far-flung area and in a hurry did not seek anybody's opinion and ended up with creating a law-and-order situation and egg on face of the entire department. The relationship between locals and police was also strained for a long time after the incident.

Kudos to Mulayam Singh for this decision though a few sections might term it as minority appeasement. I don't remember an officer of such a high rank every made to pay over similar remarks in past regimes. In fact, the record of Congress governments have been worst on such loose comments.

The new breed of politicians who are suave but not grounded are easily taken in by what the suave officials feed them. Take the example of Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy who termed Ahl-e-Hadith as 'terrorist outfit'.

Now what would be one's reaction on such a remark. He was just saying what the police had told him. And the police officials who made the comment might never have visited a madarsa or maktab in their lifetime. Would his father, HD Devegowda, have made such a comment?


FALSE PROPAGANDA CAN DAMAGE RELATIONSHIP

My point is that if there is genuine report then they should be properly checked but baseless allegations, without any evidence, cause great harm and further lead to the feeling of persecution amongst Muslims, as well as worsening the relationship.

Meanwhile, read an excerpt from Neelesh Misra's interview with Jamiat Ulema Hind chief Maulana Mehmood Madani. Maulana says:
I went to Uttaranchal Chief Minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari - he is also a friend
of my father -- and said we wanted to set up a school affiliated to CBSE. We
sought permission to buy land. Six months passed.
Finally we got the permission and bought 20 acres of land for Rs 1.5 crores to set up a school and a teachers training college for women.
Suddenly, local newspapers started reporting that
an "Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) den" is going to be set up there.
So I told a minister, we have 150 madrassas in Uttaranchal, and if you dare me, I can
set up 150 more within 24 hours. Even your father cannot stop me. I will ask any
Muslim in any village, he will give me land with gratitude because it is in the
name of Allah.
But I want to start a school. I do not want money from you, I
just want approvals so that we can go to the Central Board of Secondary
Education (CBSE). But they forcibly acquired the land we had bought, saying it was a threat to the security of the Indian Military Academy. We have now taken a
court stay. They are such dishonest people. They think that Muslims are the
enemies of India.

Link to the interview: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1871734,0008.htm

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sprint-queen Ruqaya excels on the field in Hijab: Says Hijab is no obstruction in excelling in sports


Bahrain's sprinter Ruqaya Al-Ghasara was in the news recently after she won gold medal.

Ruqaya won the medal in 200 metres contest  during the ongoing Doha Asian games in Qatar.

She also won the bronze in 100 m race. She wore a full dress with only face and hands visible. 

As a result, she got lot of attention in the media. 

Al-Ghasara said that hijab doesn't hold her back, rather it helps her in movement.

She feels that the traditional attire [full length suit and head scarf] makes her confident.

Surely, her performance will encourage many Muslims girls towards sports.

Interestingly, a section has begun questioning why Sania Mirza can't wear hijab and be a world-beater.

And that I don't agree with. It's a matter of personal choice.

Isn't it!

If the sportswomen feel that Hijab is no obstruction, then it's fine. But its nobody's business to impose it on sportswomen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ruins in towns of Northern India: Dilapidated structures tell tale of Muslim exodus from North India after partition

Ruins of a palatial house in Kakori in Lucknow
Where else can you find such ruins [khanD-har] but for Uttar Pradesh [UP]?.

Lakhs of Muslims left Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of partition just like Hindus and Sikhs arrived from Pakistan.

Hundreds of towns [not the Cities but towns--those with population of 5,000 to 50,000 and even more] were ruined.


And nobody ever thought of preserving those 'havelis'. The architecture was not documented. Those who went often returned, looked at their ancestral houses and left. The generation that was born after 80s, even lost that emotional touch.

Many of the havelis were pulled down, occupied, altered. Nearly six decades after partition these ruins still dot the landscapes in most towns. Nostalgia fills those who return to their roots from US, Pakistan and other countries just to have a look at their dilapidated houses.

After all, few relatives are left. The new generation of people who were left here do not understand the relationship as well and aren't attached much. The same is true for second and third generation of muhajirs in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Inhabitants gone for ever: How long the pillars stand?
ug rahaa hai dar-o-diivaar pe sabzaa Ghalib
hum pardes meN haiN ghar par bahaar aaii hai

With tears in their eyes they return. The structures wait for their inhabitants but they were gone for ever.

Like a poet once said:

 'yeh to makaan hai jis mein qayaam hai yaaro/ghar to voh hai jise barsoN pahle chhoR aaye haiN'.

To understand the feeling, you may read the famous Nazm 'Muhajir-nama' written by Munawwar Rana in Roman, Urdu and Hindi scripts here

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

O Quli: My Visit to Famed Poet-King Quli Qutb Shah's mausoleum in Hyderabad

The tomb of Quli Qutb Shah in Hyderabad, Deccan
I recently visited the tomb of poet-king Quli Qutub Shah, the first Sahab-e-Diwan Shaa'er of Urdu [first Urdu poet with a complete anthology].

Quli was the fifth king of Qutb Shahi dynasty and founded the city of Hyderabad besides constructing the Char Minar.

He married Bhagmati. Apart from Arabic, Persian and Urdu, Quli was also well-versed in Telugu.

Unfortunately, almost all of his Telugu writings got lost. Quli Qutab Shah rests in peace in this imposing tomb in Hyderabad. The Qutubshahi sultan also knew Sanskrit well. The kings of the dynasty and female members of the family are all buried on the premises here.

The simplicity of the 'mazaar' inside this majestic tomb is striking to any visitor. On a recent visit to Hyderabad and the 'Seven Tombs', a few couplets of Quli instinctively came to my lips. His 'munajat' is also famous.

It was then that I wondered how the Poet-King composed such beautiful verses almost 400 years ago in Urdu when as late as early twentieth century, we had the Hindi scholars debating whether it was possible to compose refined poetry in Khari Boli.

Alas, Quli's poetry finds no mention in Hindi text books in Northern India though it is undoubtedly the simplest form [and also most evolved poetry in either Hindi or Urdu, centuries ago]. Quli's Hyderabad is today one of the fastest growing urbal areas in the country.

And as far as Bhagmatis of 21st century Hyderabad are concerned, let us keep it for another post in future. After all, I have to keep this blog running. 

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Muslim-Dalit alliance in Maharashtra: Police excesses, Dalit fury & poetry on harassment of Muslims


Given the anger of Muslims with government over indiscriminate arrest of Muslims and inaction against Bajrang Dal activists accused of planting bomb near mosques in Parbhani, Nanded and other Cities, the third front stands a strong chance of trouncing the Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.

The Dalits are also an angry lot after Khairlanji killings. But the Republican Party of India [RPI] is now divided into innumerable groups.

It has been due to the strong Dalit [neo-Buddhist] population that BJP coalition could never come to power in Maharashtra, the state that has the headquarter of RSS. In fact, it was as late as 1995 that they could finally form the government.

Of late, Dalits and Muslims have joined hands. A host of rallies in Maharashtra illustrate the growing bonhomie. In a later development, the desecration of Dr BR Ambedkar's statue prompted Dalits to hit the streets. 


Police fired at Dalit youths who were also cane-charged. Even children and women were not spared. Though many consider these demonstrations and protests as excessive, the fact is that the contempt of the police force towards citizens who are fired at without trying any other measure of crowd control, is unjustifiable


The problem with Dalits is that they are almost leaderless in Maharashtra. Link for Khairlanji incident.
Time and again, the police apparently act with vengeance and without trying water canon, rubber bullets, tear gas and other measures, straight fire at protestors.


In case of Muslims also, police readily opens fire--be it Seelampur in Delhi, Vadodara or on Dalits in Osmanabad-Nashik. Nine compartments of Deccan Queen Express were set ablaze. I will write on the issue and the police's role later.

The picture above shows Muslim activists [holding an Urdu banner that reads 'Dalit-Muslim Ittehad=unity] protesting and court arrests in hundreds at Dadar, a news which was again not reported in mainstream media.

Clearly, if Dalits and Muslims come together, both alliances [Congress-NCP & BJP-Shiv Sena] are in trouble. Muslims are fed up of Congress' double-face and the suspicion with which most Muslims are being looked at, in this regime.

A Ruba'ii published in Inquilab Urdu daily:

thaane meN bulaaye jaa rahe haiN Muslim
har tarah sataaye jaa rahe haiN Muslim

pahle hii aapkii niyatoN pe shak thaa
daanista phaNsaaye jaa rahe haiN Muslim


Such has been the situation in Maharashtra that Supercop KPS Gill had recently termed midnight swoops by police as counter-productive.


Police not only barges into ordinary middle-class or poor citizens' comes but also mistreats the family and children, which hurts the psyche of people.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra's former IG SS Saradkar in an interview with Urdu daily Rahstriya Sahara acknowledged that 'Muslims are facing prejudice and injustice'. 

He claimed that when even postings at senior levels in police are 'bought', nothing could change the existing situation as cops are ready to do anything to make their political bosses happy.

'In Khwaja Yunus's custody death, police are trying to save its skin but it would not succeed.

The culprits belongting to any community should be dealt with sternly but innocents shouldn't be harassed and one-sided action must not take place. Congress doesn't seem to realise the pent-up anger amongst Muslims and other marginalised sections with the party in the state.

Over 800 farmers have committed suicide in Vidabhra only due to crop failure and the village money-lenders who charge excessive interest on loans. The Deshmukh-RR Patil government is failing in all fronts and the public is disillusioned but will there be an alternative?.

Brass Crescent Awards

Voting is on for the annual brass crescent awards for various categories viz. Best Blog, Best non-Muslim Blog, Best Female Blog, Best Group Blog, Best Ijtihad, Best Thinker et al.

Your's truly Indscribe has been nominated in the Best Middle-East/Asian bloggers' category. So bloggers can decide their favourite bloggers. The site is www.brasscrescent.org and you can directly vote at brasscrescent.org/vote.php

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Malihabad's Pathans embarrassed about Jew lineage!

A Malihabadi Muslim family 
Of late, a mad rush is going on with different groups and tribes in India claiming Jewish heritage and a subsequent migration to Israel in search of greener pastures.

Several tribes from North East have converted [or reverted] to Judaism. But at least the Afridi Pathans of Malihabad [near Lucknow], who have been told about a Jew connection seem not at all enthusiastic.


In fact, they are embarrassed [even offended].
Not at all surprising though. Senior journalist Farzand Ahmed reported the story in India Today recently.

In India, the Shanivari Telis of Maharashtra claimed that their fast on Saturday was nothing but an age-old tradition of Jews.

Similarly, a number of tribes of Manipur and Mizoram claim that they were converted by Christian missionaries in 19th century but they were in reality the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel [Bnei Menashe].

Many of them who migrated from India to Israel are not happy as they were reportedly discriminated against, once they got settled in Jerusalem or nearby towns. Rabbis from Israel routinely come to India's North Eastern region for re-conversions.

The story of Jew lineage came from nobody else but a Afridi Pathan himself. Navras Afridi has published an e-book 'The Indian Jewry' that traces their lineage to one of the lost tribes of Israel. It was a doctorate work for Lucknow University.

Israeli descent

A research team including Professor Tudor Parfitt of Jewish Studies Centre London had visited Malihabad and collected DNA samples from 50 paternally unrelated Afridi males to confirm the Israeli descent. Many scholars hail it as a landmark research.

So why the fuss? Even if they have a Israeli lineage. Israeli news agencies seem quite excited about the news and have flashed it. An elderly Malihabadi Qavi Kamal Khan says, 'I have heard that we have this lineage but we are Afridis, not Jews'.

Why are Pathans embarrassed?

Anybody's ancestor 1000-2000 years ago could be a Jew, Manichae, Zoroastrian or anybody. And isn't Judaism an Abrahamic religion! Owing to Muslim sympathies with Palestinians and considering Jews as enemies, the thought that they had Jew blood in veins, can be really annoying.

After all, Urdu papers are always filled with [suspicion towards Jewry] conspiracy theories being blamed on Zionism and Jews. It is in this context that once can understand why the Malihabadi Pathans are least excited about this theory regarding their genetic lineage.

[Pix: Photo of an Afridi Pathan family of Malihabad, the town near Lucknow that produced great litterateurs and warriors including poet Faqeer Mohammad Khan Goya and Shaa'er-e-Inquilab Josh Malihabadi].

Pandit Hari Chand Akhtar's claim on Pakistan and his Urdu couplets

Hari [Green] Chand [Moon] Aktar [Star]
Pandit Hari Chand Akhtar was a popular Urdu poet. His wit [like poet Majaz] has also been part of Urdu folklore. His ghazal with the following couplets finds place in every standard collection of Urdu poetry.

shabaab aaya, kisii but pe fidaa hone ka waqt aaya
merii dunyaa meN bande ke Khudaa hone ka waqt aaya
&
unheN dekhaa to zaahid ne kahaa iimaaN kii yeh hai
ki ab insaan ko sajdaa ravaa hone ka waqt aayaa


Read the complete ghazal in Urdu, Hindi and Roman here

Hari Chand Akhtar's poetry gives you a glimpse of the era when taking liberty with Sheikh [or Pandit] were a distinct feature of Urdu literature. Once sitting amongst some Muslim League sympathisers in a poetic meet, Akhtar got irritated over the cries of Pakistan. 


'Who will be a greater Pakistani than me?', asked Hari Chand Akhtar. 'My name پنڈت ہری چند اختر symbolises the flag of your would-be-Islamic state', declared Pt Hari Chand Akhtar. He meant that Hari (Sanskrit=God) in common parlance would mean Green, Chand would stand for Moon [Crescent] and Akhtar is the Urdu word for Star


Together they formed the Pakistai flag [Crescent and star in green background]. 'Nobody can claim Pakistan more than me', he said. Everybody turned silent now. These were poets who were secular and humanist to core. [Akhtar was his pen name]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bayaan: An Urdu novel on Hindu-Muslim relations during the turbulent period around Babri Masjid demolition

Bayaan, the Novel
Musharraf Alam Zauqi's 'Bayaan' is the most important novel that captures the anxieties and fears of both Hindus and Muslims in the turbulent years from 1986 to1992--an era when the right wing BJP grew from strength to strength and ultimately the Ram Mandir movement led to the demolition of Babri Masjid.

I had heard so much about the novel but surprisingly I hadn't met anybody who had even read this novel. Agreed, Urdu has seen a decline in readership in India but it took me nearly a decade to get the book and when I held it, I had to finish it in one sitting.

The story revolves around elderly Balmukund Sharma 'Josh', a retired official and Urdu poet as his 'takhallus' suggests, his friend Barkat Husain and their families.

Balmukund Sharma believes in the culture which developed with the interaction of Hindus & Muslims in the country over centuries. He is an epitome of 'wazadari' and puts principles above everything.

One of his son, Narendera, a doctor, is fiercely anti-Muslim and is member of a right wing party (of course, BJP) while the other son is a trader and a small-time Congress worker. The sons don't understand their father's love for a language 'that is spoken by Muslims and the script which looks strange to them'.

They don't understand why their father goes to 'mushaira' and spends time with his Muslim friends and poets.
His friend Barkat Husain's son, Munna, is a clerk at the electricity office. He is tired of hearing the taunts of being a 'Pakistani at heart'. 


The fathers helplessly watch their sons who turn even more communal than the generation that had seen the horrors of partition. The demolition of Babri Masjid comes as a big setback for Indian Muslims and causes irreparable damage to their psyche.

Munna gets restless and decides to join the anti-Muslim party. 'If we treat them as untouchable and it comes to power, how will we deal with the situation, after all, we have to live and die here', he feels. He starts going to the party meetings and in turn becomes a pariah in his community. No body understands his dilemma, not even his father who could never understand his introvert son.

Meanwhile, Balmukund Sharma Josh has serious differences with his elder son. At a mushaira Josh is mocked at by some unemployed Muslim youths who tell him that his own son is a BJP-wala but Josh enjoys the best of both worlds, as an Urdu poet getting acclaim amongst Muslims.


Josh is sick of his sons who hate everything about him and his culture. Even his grand-daughter asks him, 'Are you Muslim dada-ji, but Muslims are bad'. He decides to deprive his communal sons of any share in the property. 


Now his sons try every bit to please him. Meanwhile, his granddaughter gets ill and Munna and his wife gets the kid admitted in hospital and treated when Narendra was away to a party convention. Narendra's wife, a strict Brahmin who never ate at anybody's place discovers a postive side to Muslims and fights her husband. Munna is her brother now.

But Munna feels that he is a misfit in the right-wing party and begins to distance himself from the outfit that badly needed a few Muslim showboys. The local party leaders feel he might reveal their secrets. A man wearing a skull-cap (Muslim topi) is entrusted by a hard-core party leader to kill Munna and give the impression that Muslims killed the traitor of their community.

Shaken by the grief at the blood and gore, communal riots and the destruction of composite culture in India, Balmukund Sharma Josh is fast getting insane and decides to write a 'bayaan' [a statement, a will or a confession]. His sons are worried what is in store for them...what is going to be this bayaan?

It is undoubtely a magnum opus. It was the story of every Indian town in that era. The curfews, riots, clashes, angry rhetorics against muslims, the steady lumpenisation of the middle-class that was fuelled by politicians and Hindi newspapers in North India, which had threatened the entire social fabric of the country.

The novelist manages to capture it with perfection. Zauqi is a master story-teller and is not only the leading Urdu writer of his generation but also acclaimed Hindi writer, who is published in Hans and other prestigious literary magazines. 


Lots of lessons from the novel. Surprisingly, there are so many major works about partition, Bayaan is the probably the only Urdu novel that focuses on the inter-religious relationships and the communalisation that affected both communities in this era. 


Has this generation even lost its voice?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Unique wedding photos of Bulgarian Muslims


The Muslims who live in the Rhodope mountains of South Bulgaria and Greece have a unique culture.


They have faced intense persecution in both countries for nearly a century [since the Bulgarian revolt against Ottoman rule].


The governments banned use of Turkish script and also  changed the names of their towns.


Among other steps that were taken was prohibiting new constructions and ban on repair of the existing old mosques.




They had also confiscated Waqf properties in a bid to erase the Islamic cultural heritage.


Many were forcibly converted. They can't buy land, get jobs in government or business licenses.


The Pomak marriage is a colourful affair though the make-up [face of bride is painted] may look astonishing to outsiders.


Its an amazing world we live in. Isn't it? So many regions about which we simply have no idea.


The boys and girls in are generally married off early (mid-teens and after). For some really good pictures of Pomaks.

Click

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Indian Sikh women meets Muslim sons after 59 years

Harbans Kaur with her sons
The story of Harbans Kaur is just one of the thousands of untold stories of partition of the sub-continent.

It is a tale of unimaginable suffering and the ordeal a woman went through for over half-a-century. Kaur, 75, a Sikh woman finally met her sons after 59 years.

The story had begun when her family was leaving Pakistan at the time of partition. On way, she was attacked by a kin. She survived the violence.

Saved by a Muslim, she lived with a family in Pakistan, while the rest reached India. In Muzaffarabad, a few years later, the Muslim man who had adopted him, married her off to a Muslim.

She was married to Sakhiullah and had two sons, Karamatullah and Qudratullah, from him. However, ordeal had only begun then, as a few years later pact for exchange of abandoned women began.

Muslim women from India were to be taken to Pakistan and Hindu-Sikh women to be brought to India. After Nehru-Liaqat pact, the army sent her out from pakistan as she was termed a 'foreigner'. Her sons, who were six and seven years old then, remained in Pakistan.

Her husband, an armyman Sakhiullah, could not stop her forced deportation, despite his best efforts. She was finally handed over to her family who arranged her marriage with one, Sikh, Kaur Singh, in India. Kaur Singh died a few years later.

All these years Harbans Kaur, who was living in Mumbai,  dreamt that one day she would see her sons again but had no idea how to search them. Two years back she went to Pakistan on pilgrimage to Panja Sahib where she met another pilgrim Jassi Singh, on whose taviz, she could read the word 'Muzaffarabad'.

Singh promised to her that he would do his best to look for her sons. In 2005, he ultimately succeeded [a professor recognised the old photo given by her[ and Kaur spoke to her sons on phone.

Once again she applied for visa. The mother and sons met after nearly 60 years during the Guru Nanak's birth anniversary celebrations. Now Kaur's sons don't want her to go back but the duration of visa has expired. Politics is standing between the mother and her sons.

Poet Zahida Hina narrated this emotional story. 'When a Samjhauta Express' will be run for such Hindu, Sikh and Muslim women in India and Pakistan', she asks, adding that 'in rishtoN ke saamne mazhab, reet-rivaaj sab haar jaate haiN'.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Watching Al-Jazeera English in India: The Channel Finally Reaches Indian Homes

AL JAZEERA
For the last couple of days I have been watching Al-Jazeera's recently launched English news channel and I am really impressed.

It is not available in India but the news capsule is available on their website or you can go through this LINK FOR their LIVE STREAM directly.

Seems the channel is not welcome in America. The channel has been launched worldwide but is not available on Echostar's dishnetwork or any other major US cable or satellite network.

Agreed that Bush administration doesn't like the channel but why corporate America is against it. New York Times wrote that it's a shame that Americans couldn't watch it. The news channel is known to unbiased and for its reporters' courage in covering wars from conflict zones.

Its journalists are already getting known for their professionalism. Tony Blair's interview and admission of failure in Iraq has been a good start for the channel. Most newspapers agreed that it's presentation was standard and at par with the best in the world.

END TO EMBEDDED JOURNALISM

People call it as end of western dominance of global news space. But surely Europeans and US citizens can get the other side of story also. The world has just got another quality news channel with a different perspective and agenda than the CNN, FOX et al.

Many journalists working for the channel have lost their lives, while covering the news. Such is their dedication! Will my cable guy show it? It is Rajat Sharma's India TV that shows a 15-30 minute news clip [in Urdu] in the evening. 


Recently, reports have suggested that Indian government has allowed the Qatar-based TV channel to broadcast in India also. One hopes that we'll soon be getting the channel here also. At least, this will raise the bar, and our Indian channels will stop presenting Bollywood trivia, and start focusing on hard news & issues.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't blame just the Muslims: What about ghettoes of Gujaratis, Christians, Castes ?

Farzana Versey makes an interesting point in the article, 'Ghettoes reserved for Muslims'.

She writes that on a househunt she found that every caste group and community was busy creating its own ghetto but it is Muslims who are only termed [or accused] as the ghettoised people.

In Mumbai, it is very tough for a Muslim to find a house in a multi-cultural society because no body is willing to give a house to Muslim on rent [or for purchase either].

The situation is similar in most cities of the country and unless a strong movement emerges against this ghettoisation (by any community) and governments take certain measures, it will damage the social fabric of the nation. She writes:
One has heard of instances about how the Malabar Hill-Napeansea road belt (the most prized and pricey areas of Mumbai) are being take over by the Jain-Marwari business families.
Old Parsi bungalows are being bought just to ensure that the particular part of the city is left pure for a group of people.
Christians too have begun to form their own buildings, so do Parsis and Gujaratis and Sikhs. But these are not called ghettoes. Why, then, must Muslim-populated areas be deemed ghettos?
This blog has raised the issue of discrimination with Muslims in housing societies, on many occasions. Read the stories:

1. Builders' boycott pushes Muslims into the ghettos
2. No House for Muslims: Controversy on Shabana Azmi's comment
3. Finally, a bank for the Muslim-dominated Juhapura in Ahmedabad

[Link to Farzana Versey's story]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Diwali in Pakistan: Muslim League ministers celebrate the festival with Hindus [Communal Harmony Project-2]

Pakistan Muslim League leaders seek  'ashirwad' from 'Bhagwans'
It is now slightly late to post the picture but I really liked this photograph and thought that it must be shared with you.

The ministers of Pakistan Muslim League (PML) celebrating Diwali at the party headquarters in Islamabad.

The person who is seen third from the left in the photo is Ejazul Haq, the son of former Pakistan president Ziaul Haq.

The PML leaders are seen with 'tilak' on foreheads and seeking 'ashirwad' blessings from a couple that is posing as Hindu gods. They have been garlanded and offered the customary sweets.

We don't get to see such pictures about our neighbouring country in Indian media. Even if it is just a gesture, it is important. Religious minorities must get the feeling that they belong to the place. Their culture must be respected fully.

When different communities come together to celebrate a particular festival, it shows a society in positive light. Just like 'iftaars' are organised in India during Ramzan, despite the politics, such gatherings and events sends a message to the minority and generates goodwill.

It is easy to be cynical but believe me these gestures signify a lot and go a great way towards sending the right message to the minorities. When we see it happening in Pakistan, it has an even greater impact. Let's hope that such goodwill extends in all spheres.

For the FIRST PART on Hindus in Pakistan, you can CLICK HERE

[Photo courtesy Mr Adil Najam's website Pakistaniat.com]

UPDATE 2013: For more photographs showing Diwali celebrations in Karachi go to this LINK.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Muslim youths' unique protest in Malegaon: Against illegal detentions, indiscriminate arrests


Angry at the indiscriminate arrests & illegal detention of hundreds of Muslims in the aftermath of Malegaon blasts, a unique protest was held.

After the Friday namaaz, local residents wore the kind of masks which police make the accused to wear after their arrests.

Especially, when they bring them before journalists at press conferences. The protesters sat outside the Hamidia mosque and Bada Qabristan.

'Hum sab dahshad-gard hain, hamko bhi jail mein thuus do', was their message to the police officials and administration.

Hundreds of Muslims were wearing black bands on their arm as protest against the police high-handedness. 'In the eye of Maharashtra police, we are all terrorists', said one of the agitating youths. There is a feeling of persecution and that people were wrongly arrested.

The anguish had spilt on the street. A human chain was also formed against the police action [rounding up of hundreds of youths[. On November 14, the bandh has been called. But who will report such a protest?


Post-Script: I am adding to this post a few years later. The protest and the local residents' feeling was correct. People were framed. For Malegaon blasts, ATS under Hemant Karkare arrested Abhinav Bharat's activists. The Saffron terrorists are now in jail.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Firaq Gorakhpuri's famous Urdu couplet: Is daur mein zindagi...

Firaq Gorakhpuri
Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri, who was born in 1896, is considered one of the giants of Urdu poetry in the 20th century.

Firaq's father was also a noted poet and poetry was in his genes. Here is one of his couplets:

is daur meN zindagi bashar kii
biimaar ki raat ho gaii hai                   [*bashar=human being]


اس دور میں زندگی بشر کی
بیمار کی رات ہو گیء ہے  

[فراق]


A simple but outstanding couplet. For a sick person, the night is painful and seems everlasting. Comparing this to suffering human beings in the current age, and putting it so simplistically is just what Firaq is famous for.

One must remember that Firaq wrote the couplets in the era between the first and the second world war, when humanity was sick of the battles and massacres. India was in the grip of imperialistic powers and freedom was still far.

Firaq passed away in 1982 in Allahabad. Another great poet of the same era, Josh Malihabadi, who had migrated to Pakistan, after partition, had died the same year, across the border, thus ending this era of Urdu shayri.

Today Firaq is remembered for his imagery, use of Hindustani words, bringing Hindu culture in Urdu poetry, though its shades were present in Urdu earlier also. Firaq is also known for his 'rubais'.

Read some of the selected couplets and ghazals of Firaq AT THIS LINK.






Monday, November 06, 2006

'Muslims, Sikhs need not apply for job with Indian intelligence agencies'

*India's premier intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing [RAW[ has a strength of 10,000 but has no Muslim officer. No Muslim appointed ever since 1969 and even the late Humayun Kabir's son not selected after cleared in interview just because of his religion.
*The Intelligene Bureau (IB) with a strength of 12,000 personnel has a handful of Muslims.
*The NTRO and Special Protection Group (SPG) also don't recruit Muslims, it is the unwritten rule.
The lead story in weekly news magazine OUTLOOK by Saikat Dutta that divulges these figures, begins with the intro, 'You can blame all of India's intelligence fiascos mainly on Hindus, as the agencies don't find Muslims or Sikhs fit to work for them'.


How much the entire system [Government & bureaucracy] has been against inducting Muslims can be gauged from the fact that 'a decision was taken during Narsimharao government's tenure to recruit Muslims in IB, but still not in the RAW'. 

So a decision had to be taken [does't that reveal what is in the hearts of politicians and officials and what is on the lips when it comes to Muslims]. Even as ex-RAW chief and senior officials of army assert that it is critical to have Muslims in intelligence because they can bring crucial information and know the psyche of Muslims, the intelligence agencies are still not recruiting them.

Is it absolute foolishness on the part of government then? Or so deep a hatred that no amount what happens the Muslims should not be allowed entry in these establishments. Pathological hate. That tthey should not get any good jobs i.e. a foothold anywhere in these prime agencies. 

Or it is a Free Mason's secret, something so much against Muslims that if they enter into the RAW, that will be exposed! The anti-Sikh bias in NSG, SPG and other agencies started after 1984 with Indira Gandhi's assassination. 

So what about Mahatma Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi's killers? Did the government stop recruiting Hindus or say Maharashtrians and Tamilians--Godse and Dhanu's respective castes. That's a naive argument and when it comes to the challenge of security, there should not be such profiling. 

Anyway. I have a feeling somebody saying to me: Sardar ko Prime Minister bana diya, Muslim ko President, ab kyaa hamaari jaan loge.....IB, RAW ko to chhoR do [With Sikh Prime Minister, Muslim president, what else you minorities want. Now please leave our intelligence agencies]

Sorry, sirs. How can I dare write on this SENSITIVE issue. Thanks to Outlook, that it was revealed. I just dared to comment. Now back to serious note. I think there is a need to get professional people, really good hands, belonging to all communities and all cross-sections.

And I think, there has been a slight change in policy. Muslims are being recruited now. This will not only show that state has full faith in its minority citizens but Muslims will also, just like they have done it in army, excel and ensure better intelligence gathering. 

[Link to Outlook Story]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Civic elections in Kakori: Witnessing the colourful festival of democracy in the heartland

Photo (C) Shubh M Singh*
I have just returned after spending around 10-12 days in my hometown Kakori [just 15 km from Lucknow] and still can't stop thinking of Hamida, Shanno Bhabhi, Hasrat Ali, Najmi Arfi et al.

How can I forget these names when the loudspeakers blared even after midnight? The election for civic bodies had kept the entire Uttar Pradesh in high mode. 


Though I tried to keep myself disinterested in the beginning, I had to finally succumb to the high pitch of campaigning, the endless discussions & speculations.


It's impossible not to get affected by the election fever in this colourful festival of democracy in the heartland. The amount of money spent and the manpower used in campaigning was astonishing. Independent candidates with symbols like kite, clock, scooter were holding motorcycle rallies that had 100-odd vehicles.


I have seen many parliamentary and assembly polls but the scale of expenditure in a local body elections truly amazed me. Every candidate talked about the 'punya bhumi' of Kakori and the courage of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah in the pre-Independence era but as the D-day approached it all narrowed down to Us and Them.

'There are ten Muslim contestants and just one strong Hindu candidate, so our votes would ultimately be divided and the BJP will win'. 'If SCs don't vote for kite-wala [the BSP had not put up candidates in UP but supported contestants], there is chance of a non-Muslim winning'...such conversations we are all used to.

Attempts to create communal tension and polarise voters, clashes, firing incidents, character assassination of women candidates, gun-toting bullies roaming around & lakhs spent over parties. I saw it all in just over a week.

Where was Election Commission to check the expenditure and how could the stakes be so high in such an election! I kept wondering. The day of polling was November 3 and I left the town a day earlier. So I am now waiting for a word from my cousin about who won.

TODAY IS THE 537th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF GURU NANAK

Sikhs all over the world are celebrating this day. The akhand path and kirtans would be held today to mark the occasion. There will be processions in many cities. Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism and its time to greet all Indians and Sikhs specially on this day.

Desipundit is not shut!

So much hoopla and ultimately Desipundit continues to run like it was. How could Patrix change his mind and hand over reins to others? However, good to see Blogbharti setting off. An alternative and more accommodating blog was needed.

[*The photo courtesy Shubh M Singh]

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Azaan in Gujarat villages: Muslims turned second class citizens

NO AZAAN IN GUJARAT'S RURAL PARTS 
In Hindustan Times, the lead story 'Gujrat Muslims give up rights, buy truce', Neelesh Mishra writes about the villages where Muslims were allowed to return after riots but have to live on harsh terms. [Published on November 4, page 1]

This is a disturbing news. 'In a few months, it will be five years since Shakil Bhai last heard the call of the muezzin from the mosque by the village pond...

...the four minarets of the mosque were smashed in riots and the dargah also damaged. Dargah has since been repaired but mosque remains without a head'.

In many villages Muslims have given up 'azaan', in others they can't openly sell meat and must observe their festivals as low-key affairs. Mani Bhai Patel, a resident of the village says, 'The Muslims mind their business, we mind ours, No fighting but we don't often go towards their houses'.

So much has been written about Gujarat in the last five years. But this is a terrifying scenario. It can be wreak havoc on the psyche of any community if they have to live under such terms--not allowed azaan or the temple bells.

But nothing could be worse for our social fabric than such detachment where communities stop going towards areas inhabited by the 'other'. No use blaming Gujarat, Gujaratis and Government. The problem exists everywhere and we need to address it urgently. 


What shall all of us do to de-communalise the society ? What kind of small steps we can take in our individual capacities to reduce tension and enhance interaction between communities that to could lead to harmony ? 


[The photograph is symbolic though this is also a mosque in the same state]

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lady Monk's miraculous escape: First praised, then persecuted for falling in love

First the story of female monk [Jain Sadhvi[ Siddhishri, 21, who went missing from the Sthanatk, which is the place of worship for a sect of Shvetambar Jains that do not have idols as they are atheists & against rituals.

The devotees had found ash in her room and soon the news spread that a miracle has occurred. Also, rumours of people having seen a flash light emerging from her room made rounds.

Everybody was now praising the Sadhwi for her penance and her extreme devotion to the dharma. She was credited with the miracle.

Hundreds of devotees gathered but it was later found that Siddhishri was in love with one, Raju Talwar, and that she had eloped with him. The plan was to leave behind signs everybody would consider as miracle-- result of her 'sadhna' and stop searching the female monk.

The worst part is that now everybody is gunning for her. She has been arrested and has also been charged with offending Religious Feelings under Section 295 (A) but also for criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief and other sections under the Indian Penal Code.

Raju was interested in 'darshan' of the sadhvi when he first heard of her and later turned her attendant. She also fell in love with him. Siddhishri's crime is that she is an adult and decided to marry. 


Like innumerable other monks, she was turned 'Sadhvi' at the age of 14. Like the minor [9 year old] girl whose parents said that she had shown wish to live the life of an ascetic [and the case is in Court], Samta was also turned into Sadhvi Siddhishri.

The Sadhvi or Sadhu has to live an austere life and can never marry besides shunning all blood relations. Jain monks always walk barefoot, accept small quantity of food in alms, have to move from place to place, never take up any transport and have to pluck off their hair [not cut them with razor].

Code of conduct is extensive with slight differences in various sects & sub-sects. Won't it be better if Jain Orders stop inducting minors as monks even if the parents are willing. Once they are grown up they can decide & if they still wish to devote their life then they can surely go ahead then.

Imrana gets justice

Good to see the court sending Imrana's rapist father-in-law to the jail for ten years. But what about the cleric who said that she ought to live with the father-in-law as wife? Heartening that Imrana's husband stood by her during her ordeal.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Religious Diversity in India: Iftar beside Ganges, Muslim setting afire Ravana and communal harmony!

1. Some Muslims had their 'iftaar' on the banks of Ganga [Holy Ganges river] at Hardwar and not only the loony fringe [Bajrang Dal] but also the Congress felt that the sanctity of the place was defiled.

Apparently Congress is angry because members of SP [Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party] had organised the iftaar.

2. Shahnawaz Husain, the Muslim face of BJP, went to a temple in Bhagalpur. Shahnawaz is trying his luck from the constituency on the BJP ticket.

The Saffron organisations are angry, the temple cleaned up as per rituals, besides series of agitations that how a Muslim entered the temple premises.

3. At Sangrur in Punjab the IG who happens to be Muslims was chief guest at the Dussehra event and he was asked to light the effigy of Ravana.

The Muslim official duly ignited the Ravana effigy. Now it has turned into a major controversy and the local MLA is jittery at the thought of losing votes in the upcoming elections as she is trying to convince that it was not a sacrilege.

4. Bar Girls danced at the fair at the famous Dewa [Deva sharif] Urs in Uttar Pradesh and here also a major controversy has erupted thanks to news channels, who feel it was an affront to Sufism. Ironically, the same channels that have no qualms in showing 'wardrobe malfunction' and 'chance nudes' are crying hoarse about the bar girls, who were at least dressed quite decently.

5. And last but not the least. Can you believe this? A monkey raised by a Muslim and who allegedly used to bite Hindu kids, has been in jail for years. Reason: His 'acts caused communal tension' and thus it has been caged and in police custody for a long time in Orissa.

Now animal rights activists are pressing for his release. But our major newspapers refer to him as 'Communal simian', 'Jehadi monkey' or whatever and believing that it really bit selectively. All the above mentioned five stories I saw on TV in a single day (on Sunday) when I was just cursorily changing channels. Do I need to comment any further on them!

I don't know if its a lunatic asylum we are living in or it's media madness that brings out only stories of discord in a nation of 1 billion. 'Hindustan ajooboN ka des hai', this we find uttered by historical figures a thousand years ago and I wonder if any thing has changed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An encounter with Urdu poet Rahat Indori at a railway station

I was standing at the railway platform waiting for the Lucknow-bound train to arrive which my chacha [uncle] had to board when a man hurriedly walked past us.

My elderly 'chacha' said, 'Arrey, Rahat Sahab'. The middle-aged man now turned his head back and acknowledged him, with a wide grin.

I don't know how but the first couplet (matlaa) of one of his ghazals came to my lips:

uski katthai aaNkhoN meN haiN jantar mantar sab
chaaqu vaaqu, chhuriyaaN vuriyaaN, khanjar vanjar sab

اسکی کتھیء آنکھوں میں ہیں جنتر منتر سب
چاقو واقو چھریاں وریاں خنجر ونجر سب

Rahat, who earlier looked in a hurry, stopped and came towards us. He was quite overwhelmed as I had recited his couplet instantly. First, like an elder he kept his palm on my head and then embraced me warmly. That was an interesting meet.

He surely loved being recognised and more so because he heard his own couplet from someone. What a coincidence it was!

I have posted this ghazal earlier, I guess:

jis din se tum ruuThiiN, mujhse ruuThe ruuThe haiN
takia vakia, chaadar vaadar, bistar vistar sab.

You can read Rahat Indori's ghazals in Roman, Urdu and Hindi scripts at BESTGHAZALS

Meanwhile, the blog of Adil Najam and his friends, Pakistaniat.com has the lead story of Desecration of Hindu Temple in Karachi: Stop It. NOW!. It is laudable the way the blog has expressed concern over the minorities' issue (Hindus in Pakistan). It's a popular blog and would surely create awareness.

The article starts with: Religious intolerance must never be tolerated. To be silent in the face of intolerance is intolerance itself. And I absolutely agree. Heartening to see these voices, which are necessary in all evolved societies.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Communal bug bites Mangalore: Clashes, rioting reaches Southern India


Riots in Mangalore! I am really surprised. Even the beautiful town in the West Coast is no longer immune to communal violence.

Though Karnataka has seen riots in the last ten-odd years ever since the issue in Hubli was raised apart from riots in Bangalore, Bhatkal and other places.

Now Mangalore has also seen this polarisation on religious lines. Clashes have been going on for a couple of days now.

Most of the Mangalore Muslims belong to Beary community that is spread across the coast. They speak Tulu [Isn't Aishwarya Rai a Tulu?] and other local languages.

Kannada, Konkani and Urdu are also spoken here. Mangalore is part of Dakshin Kannada district, part of the cultural region knows as Tulu Nadu. The riots that led to two deaths and over 100 injured, began when a truck carrying cattle for slaughter was stopped by Bajrang Dal activists.

The Karnataka Home Minister has blamed VHP and Sri Ram Sena [ever heard it's name] for the violence. The name of Muslim organisation like SIMI has also been reported in a couple of news reports. Ironically, most riots start over the familiar conflicts.

Last week's riots in towns in small towns in Northern India were mostly over the route of processions, raising of communal slogans in front of religious places etc. This has been going on for ages. So sad that we are yet to devise strategies to stop such mindless act.

Mangalore means an 'auspicious place' and hopefully the situation would normalise soon and peace prevails. Latest reports have confirmed the death of Abdul Ghafoor, 26, Imam of the mosque at Bijai, who was killed by suspected Bajrang Dal activists.

 Also, an ambulance carrying injured was attacked. Karnataka government surely needs to take drastic steps to end the violence and arrest the perpetrators. (Above a photo of Mangalore's MG Road)