Wednesday, February 27, 2008

After Ulema, it's government's turn

After the recently convened Anti-Terrorism Conference & the Ulema's historic Deoband Declaration, the Centre and State governments must also take care of the following critical issues:

1. The 'secular' Congress government in Maharashtra must immediately give sanction for prosecuting all the rogue cops booked for biased action and shooting innocents during the Communal Riots of 1992-1993 in Mumbai.

Indian Madarsa Students: Eternally in the dock.

2. The Vilas Rao Deshmukh's Congress-NCP combine 'secular' government should immediately accept the Sri Krishna Commission Report and implement its recommendatiosn without any further delay.

3. The Congress-led UPA government that has been playing the "Sachar committee card', should instead rein in the agencies that routinely arrest innocents, term Madarsas as threat to national security and in turn creating suspicion among Muslims regarding the police and law-enforcing agencies.

4. Put on a curb on spreading falsehoods about Muslims and check those who defame the entire Madarsa educational system of this country.

5. Police need to be de-communalised. In UP, the 'secular' Mayawati government should desist from framing innocent Muslims. The arrests of innocents like Haji Ishtiaq or Aftab Alab (their cases have been reported on this blog), are two cases in the point.

The Ulema have made a step. But if there is no response and excesses continue, the clergy would again go back into its shell. The dialogue must continue and it is not possible unless the other group takes a serious view of this situation.

Photo Courtesy AngeloAngelo []

Monday, February 25, 2008

Anti-Terrorism Convention at Deoband: Will it succeed or meet the fate of Lucknow conference

Darul Uloom Deoband is hosting a convention against terrorism on February 25.

Apart from representatives of hundreds of leading seminaries and madarsas, the heads of Jamat-e-Islami, Jamat Ahl-e-Hadis and All India Muslim Personal Law Board chief are going to attend it.

The agenda will be to send a strong message against terrorism. And also to counter the propaganda that links madarsas with terrorism.

The Darul Uloom Rector Maulana Marghoobur Rahman has said that fundamentalist forces, sections of media and fundamentalist organisations are spreading falsehoods.

Despite LK Advani's [in his capacity as Home Minster of India] assertion in Parliament that no Indian madarsa is involved in any such activity, the madarsas are regularly targeted and baseless charges are made, trying to defame the educational institutions.

The aim is also to urge the government to stop the excesses on Muslims. I wonder if any lesson has been learnt from the failure of the recent Lucknow conference.

Why the Islamic clergy never invite the cream of intellectuals, editors, social activists and leading lawyers from Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Unless the madarsas reach out to them, all such exercises would remain futile.

The criminal act of lawyers in UP who refuse to take up the case of anybody accused by police of terrorism, hasn't become an issue yet. Youths are languishing in jail (Not many are fortunate like Aftab Alam, who managed to get back to his Kolkata home).

You discuss a issue among yourself and nobody is going to bother. The Lucknow conference had hardly found any mention in the media. [See my earlier post on Arrests of innocent Muslim youths and failure of Ulema] This is the era of Public Relationing.

Unfortunately Islamic seminaries remain out of sync with times in this country. And the great institutions, which played a leading role in freedom movement, are today in the dock and having to explain their case.


The Court has ordered release of Haji Ishtiaq, who was arrested for issuing a 'threat to Mayawati'. The same police that was hell-bent on 'proving' his links with terrorism and had even charged him with National Security Act (NSA), has filed the report to end the case.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Do we need Muslim MLAs: Concerns over delimitation of constituencies in Delhi

There is lot of concern expressed regarding the de-limitation (had-bandi) of Assembly constituencies in Delhi.

The Muslim leaders are complaining that their constituencies have been worst affected and there are apprehensions that even fewer Muslims would make it to the Assembly.

Since independence the Lal Quila and Jama Masjid were part of the Matia Mahal constituency. The voters of these areas will now vote in Chandni Chowk.

 "The irony is that Matia Mahal is no longer part of the Matia Mahal constituency, and new areas have been added", says Shoaib Iqbal, who has been representing the seat for 15 years.

Many say that hardly Muslim MLAs would get into the Assembly, the elections for which are due in October this year.Delhi has 70 Assembly constituencies. Concerns are also visible in newspapers that Muslim presence will dwindle in the house.

But does the number of Muslim MLAs matter much?

Is it not better if the real issues--refurbishing of school buildings, cleanliness in slums, proper drinking water, opening of schools and dispensaries, registration of poor under the BPL list and similar basic needs--are raised.

And any candidate, irrespective of his religion or party, who promises to deliver on these counts, should be voted. Of course, the promise should be public and in presence of prominent citizens. I am sure, there is no dearth of dynamic persons, who can ensure basic amenities and at least make an effort towards that, after all, it's not a big bargain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kosovo's independence: Birth of third Muslim country in Europe

Kosovo is the latest country to have proclaimed independence. After Albania and Bosnia, it is the third country* with a Muslim majority in Europe.

The reactions have been mixed. USA, France, Germany and some other countries have decided to recognise the fledgling nation. Some other countries including Spain, Russia and Serbia (that lays claim over Kosova) have criticised the move of Kosovan government, to unilaterally declare its independence.

The birth of Kosova should be seen as another sign of harmony between Europe and Islam. The fact that such large Muslim populace has existed in Europe for centuries, should also serve as an eye-opener for those who consider Islam as incompatible with West.

Kosovo has a population of 2.1 million (21 lakh) and 90% populace practice Islam. There is a Christian Serb minority in the country also. The new government has downplayed its religious affiliation and is all set to be a secular nation on lines of Albania.

After disintegration of Yugoslavia, and subsequent war in this region Kosovo was administered by United Nations. *Apart from these countries, Balkan region including Bulgaria, Macedonia and Croatia has susbtantial Muslim population.

[The photograph shows 'New Born' and banner of 'Kosova is born' in the capital city Pristina]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dividing UP: Harit Pradesh, Bundelkhand & Purvanchal

Uttar Pradesh, the heart of India, and the great landmass with a population of 200 million may get trifurcated into three states (or even four states).

And Lucknow may lose its political power that will get divided among Varanasi*, Jhansi and Meerut, the capitals of the proposed states.

It may take a couple of more years for the states to come into existence, but the growing regional aspirations among people in these regions and the politicians' vested interests will ultimately lead to the division of these states.

Though UP is difficult to govern, given its size, the fact remains that smaller states have turned out to be bigger failures. As long as Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were part of greater Madhya Pradesh and greater Bihar, the situation in these regions was not as bad as today.

Both the states that had huge mineral deposits and other natural resources, have become hotbeds of Naxalism. Corruption has grown by leaps and bounds and insurgency has made development impossible. These arguments aside, the states will ultimately come into existence. Bundelkhand is the most under-developed region in North India.

The historic city of Benares (Varanasi) will be the capital of Purvanchal (UP's Eastern part), that will share its borders with Nepal and Indian states of Bihar and MP. Bundelkhand will be carved out of both UP and MP with Jhansi as capital.

But the most contentious is the issue of Harit Pradesh. There are 'strategic concerns' that this region of Western Uttar Pradesh (UP) that will have nearly 35% Muslim population, become a 'unique case' in the heart of India.

The fact that the urban Muslim populace in this region is even higher, makes it unpalatable for not just BJP but many other parties also. Ajit Singh has however made it an issue, for quite sometime. UP has already lost Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal) but still Southern states complain about its sheer size that gives a party winning in UP, a larger clout at the Centre.

The Second State Reorganisation Commission is about to be instituted. And the long-standing demands of Telangana & Vidarbha can't be ignored either. Future will tell whether the backward regions and people of these areas will get benefited from the formation of new states or it will worsen things.

[Photo: Map showing different regions viz. Awadh, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh ]
[*The status of Allahabad that falls in this region also remains questionable]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reprinting caricatures: Extreme act of provocation by Denmark newspapers

The newspapers in Denmark have republished the same caricatures that had offended Muslims across the world. Their decision to print the cartoons is not a 'solidarity to the commitment to free speech, which they claim.

Rather, it is an act of provocation that shows extreme insensitivity, and criminal chutzpah. The newspapers have overstepped all limits of decency and their decision goes against the Danish values, which the Danes have been so proud of.

The caricature is not just offensive because Islam forbids pictorial depiction of Prophet, but also because the 'bomb-shaped turban' in the caricature is a fascistic attempt and such hatespeak is unimaginable in a continent where the mention of Holocaust and doubts on its veracity can land a person in jail.

Clearly, when it comes to Islam, things are different. Hurting sentiments no longer remains an issue. Given the kind of furore the cartoon controversy had generated in the past, the irresponsible reprinting can severely hurt the process of reconciliation between Muslim countries and Europe.

It will certainly anger Muslims in Europe and especially Denmark, who will naturally feel humiliated. The papers including Jyllands-Posten, Politiken, Berlingske Tidende and the Ekstra Bladet tabloid must be condemned for such cheap journalism.

Over a year ago when the caricatures were initially published, a photo and post was published on this blog about Muslims organising rallies in India and holding placards carrying the message, 'We believe in Jesus, can't you respect Muhammad?'. Any answers from Denmark?

[Photo: Picture of the office of Jyllands Posten newspaper]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Haji Ishtiyaq's arrest: Anger against Mayawati govt

Haji Ishtiyaq, a shopkeeper, in Baghpat, was picked up by the police on January 27, just because of a 'prediction' in a mocking tone, that Mayawati government may not last long. His arrest has now become a major issue in Western UP.

The conversation between Haji Ishtiaq and a BSP worker who was drinking near his shop, that ultimately led to the arrest, is reproduced here*:

Haji Ishtiaq: Making merry, aren't you!
BSP Worker: Ya, it's our government & we will make merry for next 15 years in the state. (two more terms)
Haji Ishtiaq: Let's see how long Mayawati and her government last

On the complaint of the BSP worker, Ishtiaq was later arrested, charged under sections meant for anti-national activities, linked with terrorists and thrown into jail. He was even charged of conspiracy to kill Mayawati.

But the issue has now snowballed into a major controversy. Nearly 50,000 attended the Mahapanchayat, which was addressed by Ajit Singh and Kokab Hameed. Maulana Masood Madani has criticised the arrest and lambasted the Muslim MLAs of BSP for betraying the community.

'Democracy has been murdered in UP', he said. Haji Ishtiyaque's arrest is just an example of the high-handedness of UP police and its zeal in linking Muslims with terrorism. Political parties and several groups have come out in support of Ishtiaq.

(*on the basis of newspaper reports and statements of Haji Ishtiaq's supporters)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

List of Hindi Blogs: Directory of Hindi bloggers

Hindi Blogosphere is quite an interesting place. I often read a few Hindi blogs and the directness of the language and the angst of some bloggers apart from the intensity of their emotions strikes me.

Many of my friends in vernacular media keep asking me about Hindi blogs. I promise that I will recommend them a few names but then I forget. There is no directory though there are aggregators. Here is a list of some interesting Hindi blogs which I read:

Mohalla [Avinash]
Nirmal Anand [Abhay Tiwari]
Masijeevi [Masijeevi]
Udan Tashtari

Qasba [Ravish Kumar]
Dhai Akhar [Nasiruddin]
Tuti Hui Bikhri Hui
Ravi Ratlami

And a few more blogs:

Azdak [Pramod Singh]
Ashiyana [Rajeev Ranjan]
Kakesh by Kakesh
Saasta Sher
Maykhana [Munish]
Amir Dharti Gharib Log [Anil Pusadkar]

If you are not content with the list, which is a personal collection of the best blogs. You can go to blog aggregators and read dozens of blogs every day and scores of fresh posts.


I can remember these bloggers right now. Later this list may be extended. But for someone who is new to Hindi blogosphere, it is advised to go to the links in the sidebar of the above mentioned blogs and find new and interesting blogs.

Though I belong to Lucknow and my mother tongue is Urdu, I find it disturbing that there are hardly a few blogs in Urdu from India. However, it is gladdening to see Hindi blogs increasing in numbers and devanagari script getting popular on the web especially among the bloggers

Will Azharuddin enter politics, join TRS!

Former Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin had a meeting with Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader K Chandrashekhar Rao, and the latter gave him an invitation to join his party.

KCR wants Azhar to contest as Mayor for the election of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. Later he told jounralists that Azhar is quite keen on politics. 'Azhar is interested in politics and as he belongs to the region, I extended him the invitation to join our party', said TRS leader.

Azhar was also informed about TRS' programmes regarding minorities, schemes for protection of Waqf properties and promise of more reservation for Muslims in jobs. Though Azhar hasn't given any indication, sources indicate that he may take a pluge in politics, after testing waters.

TRS wants to make inroads into MIM stronghold of Old Hyderabad. But it is debatable whether Azhar will have any impact on the voters. He may have millions of admirers for his batting but Hyderabadis haven't forgotten the divorce given to Naureen and his disgrace in the aftermath of the matchfixing controversy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Arresting innocent Muslims in UP & failure of Lucknow Conference

The "Allegation on Muslims and Terrorism" conference in Lucknow, had raised expectations among Muslims that their voice would be heard.

And though the event could be considered successful in terms of the participation of over a hundred Ulema and Muslim intellectuals, the desired objectives couldn't be achieved.

Firstly, it failed to make any impact on State politics. The decision not to invite any politician was laudable but the event didn't make any headlines in the media. The fact is that situation is UP is quite bad at the ground-level.

Everybody wants sternest possible action against terrorists but it is unacceptable the way police implicate innocent (of course, poor) youths in false cases, just to show their success in cracking a case.

But this is happening in UP regularly. The arrest of Aftab Alam Ansari was one such incident. There have been several such cases. Ironically, those arrested are immediately branded terrorists and even the lawyers refuse to fight their case.

This is the perhaps the most unique situation where a person who gets framed, has no option, but to accept the verdict. The cops are forced to make such arrests because of the politicial pressure after any major strike.

In the case of Aftab, who was subjected to torture for over two weeks, and later DGP Brij Lal had to admit that his arrest was a mistake and he was innocent, the government didnot take action against erring cops and nobody apologised.

What they fail to realise is the extent of anger among Muslims, who feel leaderless and voiceless. The communalisation of policemen in UP is an old story but the lawyers have now taken the lead, and branded the community as radical, giving no option of justice to the arrested person.

It is bad for the psyche of any community. And it was in this backdrop that the seminar-cum-national conference was held. Maulan Rabe Hasan Nadwi and leading Islamic scholars spoke at the conference, which was organised by All India Milli Council. Unfortunately the organisers failed to draw attention towards the state machinery's brazen bias towards Muslims.

Two reports in the Hindu about this conference here and here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The 'communal' scrap-dealer

A junk-dealer comes at your door and when you ask the price at which he will buy the old newpapers, he says "Don't worry, I will give the right money, I am not like Muslims, who are cheats".

Now, if you are a Muslim, will you be angry, hurt or get into a serious introspective mode about yourself, your community and the society?

Let me explain the situation. It didn't happen to me. We are the single Muslim family in the entire locality. I was away. My wife was selling the papers and a neighbourhood lady (not Muslim) who was passing by, asked my wife 'yeh log taulne mein be-imaani karte hain' (Take care these people don't weigh properly).

It was in this context that Mr Kabaadi said that 'ham nahin karte, yeh sab Musalman karte hain' and a bit more. My wife was too shocked and couldn't control her anger. She said that she was also a Muslim and questioned him, how he could be so judgemental about the entire community.
The guy appeared embarrassed but still went on to say...'maiN voh daadhi wale musalmano ki baat kar raha hun'. (I am talking about the beareded Muslims...not the ones like you!).

To this my wife gave him a piece of her mind. Some other neighbours and our domestic help also scolded him. Later he left in a huff. Had I been there, I may not have scolded him but my wife, who is much more rational and always considered it too to petty to judge someone on the basis of religion or caste, was astonished at the manner the junk-dealer could spell out his biases so openly.

She also gave him the rest of the papers without accepting the money, saying that 'hum log to be-imaan hote hi hain'. She took it to her heart and was upset the whole day. I think in her place I may not have reacted so strongly. But I can understand her anguish. It's better to give vent to your anger in such situations.

Though I don't think the guy was communal. Firstly, he was not expecting to come across a Muslim family in the slightly posh locality. Secondly, it could be his business rivalry with Muslim junk-sellers (there are lot of Muslims among kabaadis). But the ease with which he could spell it out, openly before any stranger, was surprising.

It simply illustrates the inherent biases in our society. In Maharashtra blame the Biharis for the ills or in Kolkata, the Marwaris. Of course, it is even better to blame Muslims for all the ills. Muslims are already branded, as fundamentalists, producing too many kids and found more in jails.......ek aur tohmat ki

So what should I, as an individual do, to lessen this impression.... Try to be even more fairer in my dealings, which I think I already am. Blaming others won't help. Isn't it time Muslims at all level seriously address this image problem.

Shall we not try for more interaction with people belonging to other communities and go extra mile in helping everybody. Ghettoisation has already divided Hindu and Muslim localities in most cities and that's the reason for growing hatred and misconceptions. Let's try and make more friends....

Or if you have any suggestions, readers of this blog!