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

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


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

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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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?


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:,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 migration from North India after partition

Ruins of a palatial house in Kakori in Lucknow

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Where else can you find such ruins [khanD-har], other than Uttar Pradesh [UP]?.

A large number of people had 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] witnessed migration.

The 'qasbahs' of Awadh are unique. They have historically been centres of art, culture, poetry and a lifestyle that different from urban centres, as well as rural pockets. The architecture was not documented. Those who went, often returned, to have a look at their ancestral houses and went back. The generation that was born after 80s, even lost that emotional touch.

Many of these structures were pulled down, occupied, dismantled or renovated. Nearly six decades after partition, several such 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 relationships well. 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 go back. 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
Gghar 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
NOTE: It is not that there are just ruins. Lot of people remained and several such structures exist, stand firm. Change is the law of the nature, and even without a cataclysmic event, places change with time. 

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.